As the group fought Medicines and other people, they had gathered quite a few Medicines, but since it was the second day, they knew that they must try to defeat as many Medicines as possible and the third day would be the best day to rob others! But, this meant that they would have to conserve their strength on the second day and avoid as many fights with other people.
As they swept through the area, they came across many Medicines and even an 8 Star one as well! This was truly lucky, but there was nothing else of note, as finding things was not very likely. Finding two objects was extremely lucky and Darius had already decided that if they came across anything else, he would not take anything else.
They split up the Medicine evenly, despite everyone pestering Darius, as they said he was making the most contributions to the fight. As he was fighting, the spear that he used was slowly cracking even more, even though he was not using all of his strength. This worried Darius a lot, as he knew that once it broke his overall strength would decrease by a bit, as he would only be able to use his fists and without knowing the correct techniques, it would be hard to use them effectively against a strong opponent.
Although this worried him, it did not make him overly cautious about the durability of his spear while he was fighting, as he knew that if he held back too much, then him and his friends would suffer, just so that he might be able to use his spear for a bit longer, while he had other weapons that he could use.
After a few hours, the group had to stop and rest, as they had been making sure not to tire themselves too much, as they would have a problem if, when they tried to rob someone and they were all too tired to do anything. As they sat down and ate some meat that Alex had found in one of the rings from the people that had tried to attack them before.
Since they were cultivators, they didn’t need to eat, but it was something they could do for enjoyment and as a source of energy if they were in need. But, since they were going to rest, food was a good way to enjoy themselves and also as they needed to conserve energy, then food was a way that could let them stay alert for longer.
When they finished eating their food, the group got up and they continued onwards. But, as they were fighting a Medicine, another group came up and attacked them! Slashing down with his spear in a vicious arc, the person that it was aimed at had no chance and crumpled under it., but once he had done so, another person jumped out and started to attack him and this person seemed to understand that Darius was extremely strong, so he came in and quickly attacked before retreating.
But, that didn’t faze Darius as he stabbed out multiple times in the matter of a second, but made sure that none of the attacks were too harmful, but the person was still knocked unconscious. Letting out a sigh, Darius ran off to help his friends, but he suddenly felt an intense sense of danger from behind him and he jumped up into the air and did a backflip. Once he landed, he saw that there was a person standing where he was before. This person turned around and stabbed at Darius, but he easily dodged it and smashed them aside with the shaft of his spear.
Since they could send three people after Darius alone, it meant that the group that they were fighting had a lot of people and from the way people were constantly coming or going, it told Darius that their leader was still hiding in the forest. Running into the forest, it would be extremely dangerous for him, as anyone could jump out and attack him from behind a tree, but he needed to get rid of their leader to disorganise them. By disorganising them, it would become much easier for them to defeat the rest of their attackers.
Running through the trees, Darius was sent out his energy to sense where people were, but once he did so, a person jumped out of a shrub to his right and tried to attack him. Although Darius was not ready, his reaction speed was extremely good and he jumped out of the way and did a roundhouse kick, knocking out his attacker.
When he did this, Darius realised that most of them were not too skilled in actual combat, but they were actually trained to be assassins. But, while he was thinking this, Darius sensed an object moving towards him at a high velocity. Deflecting it to his side, he was glad he did so, as the object was a throwing knife and it flew through many trees and it flew so far and through so many trees that Darius was not able to see it anymore. If that knife hit him, his whole chest would have been completely destroyed and it would have pierced through his spine.
Whoever threw the knife was extremely skilled, as if the knife hit him, it would have messed up his chest, but not enough that he would die. But, as the knife would have gone through him, it would have stabbed through his spinal cord, meaning that he would have been paralyzed, although he could have been healed by someone who knew bone setting, Darius was unsure if the Sect would have bothered, as most people that knew Bone Setting were eccentric and hard to bring to their side.
This made Darius shiver, but he was not given time to think about it too deeply as another knife was thrown at him and another and another and another, soon enough, there was a barrage of throwing knives heading towards him. They were moving too fast for him to get out of the way, so simply stood there and closed his eyes and focused. When the first of the knives reached him, he deflected them with ease, but as more and more came he was having more trouble and sweat was forming on his brow. Deflecting one with his spear, ducking under another, then swaying to the side to dodge another and repeating, but at one point while he was blocking them, some scratched him.
Once all of the knives flew past him, Darius was covered in scratches and there was a larger wound on his leg that cut all the way through his body until it reached the bone. This was the first time that he was injured this badly for the whole competition! Running to where the knives were thrown from, Darius knew that there would have to be multiple people to throw this many of them in a matter of seconds.
When he saw the first person, Darius charged at them and knocked them out immediately. He lifted his head and saw that there were multiple people fleeing from the area and he ran after them as well and he was able to knock out quite a few of them. Of the people that he knocked out, four of them had rings. Although he didn’t have too much time, Darius was able to look through them briefly.
“OH, there is some good stuff in these!”
As he was running after the others, Darius realised that a group of this size had managed to defeat a monstrous amount of Medicines, so he was overwhelmed by the amount in the rings!
But, as he was running, Darius realised that the rest of his group would not be faring that well, so he could only give up the chase and return to his friends, as he was not able to find the leader of the group. Running back to his friends, Darius was surprised to see that they were still going strong and he joined in and helped them fight their enemies.
After defeating one of the enemies, Darius would move on and help the next person in his group and he cycled through like this, so that each person would be able to rest for some time. But, the people that jumped out of the forest seemed to be endless. Although their overall combat ability was not great, Darius had to ward off many assassins while he was helping his team.
“It seems like there are endless amounts of them, I will not be able to last much longer!”
As Morgan was fighting while Darius was helping, he said this to Darius, but it seemed that their opponent heard them and scuttled off. He then came back ten seconds later with four other people! But, as soon as Darius saw them, he rushed at them and knocked them all out and he shouted out,” Run, I will hold them off while you get away, take this, if you put some energy into it, it will tell you the position of the other one of its pair. I have this one.” While he was knocking out the other people, Darius found these in their rings, which explained how they were all able to meet up like this and form such a larger group, so he gave one these objects. It looked a bit like a nail, except that it had miniscule runes all over it and Darius was not able to recognise them, so he concluded that they were not an inscriptioner’s runes.
Taking out several strange looking balls, Darius rolled them towards the forest and turned his head away from them. After a second, there was a loud bang and a blinding light burst from the area that the balls were. These balls were called Blinding Orbs, they had the ability to explode into a large amount of light, which was enough to blind anyone, as long as they were looking at the Orbs.
Using the time that they were blinded, Darius jumped into the forest and hid in a tree after knocking out a few people. When the rest of the people recovered from their blindness, they saw that their targets had disappeared and started to panic, but then a loud voice boomed out,” Stay calm and sweep the area, make sure to find these people, they are sure to have lots of Medicines!”
Hearing that voice, Darius was startled, as he never expected that the person was so close. Observing the area, he confirmed where the voice came from and he headed over there while making sure not to attract any attention to himself. As he snuck through the people searching for him, Darius eventually made it to the area where he heard the voice before. Approaching the area, he noticed that it was much more heavily guarded compared to the rest of the area.
Sneaking past them, Darius wasn’t sure how he did it, considering how these people were more accustomed to sneak attacks, so they should be able to call him out as he was sure that he wasn’t that good at hiding and sneaking up on people. But, despite that, he managed to get extremely close to the closely guarded group, at which he revealed himself and he knocked out one of the guards, then he jumped through the gap and grabbed their supposed leader.
Once he grabbed the leader, he shouted out,” Hey, all of you! I have your leader, if you even think about trying to hurt me or my friends, you will have to say goodbye to your leader!”
“Kekekeke, you brat! I am not their leader!” As he was pulling their ‘leader’ away, the person in his arms laughed and shouted this out, causing Darius to pause from his shock and when he looked at the people around him, he saw a smug look on their face, as they knew that the person he was holding hostage was not their leader.
Seeing that, Darius smacked the person on the back of his head and he fell unconscious. He then took his ring while dodging the attacks of the other people. Pivoting, Darius smashed his fist into the nearest person’s face and jumped over the low kick of another person and then he broke that person’s leg. Since he had incapacitated the person, Darius didn’t knock him out yet, but he jabbed at the closest person’s stomach, causing the to double over, before kneeing them in the face, sending them flying over the trees.
But, as he was fighting the people off, he noticed that they all had rings and he made sure to take all of them! As he was sending people flying and knocking them out, Darius had managed to become very proficient in the arts of grabbing their ring finger and taking their ring off. If things continued like this, he would become a very successful pickpocket.
Right now, Darius had at least three rings on each of his fingers and every once in awhile, he would throw one ring on and replace it with another, as he had put all of its items in his other rings and pouches. Since he wasn’t using his energy, Darius could continue on for a very long time and when he became tired, his could use his energy to supplement for the normal energy that his body would use to function.
As he was fighting them, Darius reckoned that he had come across their leader some time, as when he was inspecting one ring, there were a few pouches in it and he immediately put them in his original ring. After fighting for an hour, Darius felt that his body was starting to show signs of fatigue, but it didn’t effect him yet, so he continued on fighting the people.
But, after another hour, Darius knew that his body would not be able to continue on after a bit and he started to use his energy. He tried to keep the usage to a minimum, but by the time he managed to regulate the amount of energy that he used, Darius noticed that there were no more people running at him. Seeing that, he looked around him and he saw an endless amount of bodies.
Well, it seemed endless to Darius, but because his view was obstructed by trees, he was not able to see where they ended and he had managed to shock himself, as he never realised that he had managed to knock out this many people. Although he knew that he had been fighting for over two hours, he didn’t realised that he had managed to knock out over two hundred people!
Since he was in the very heart of the group and since he was surrounded by the highest level of people, they all had rings, but as lower levelled people came in, they had a lower frequency of rings, so overall he had managed to get around 60 rings. Although most of them had been strewn all over the place, he had managed to get a majority of the things inside those rings into other rings, so he managed to have a wonderful harvest and he had managed to get many more Medicines!
After he had gone through his rings, Darius flopped down onto the ground and let out a sigh. Circulating his energy through his body, Darius was able to recover all of the energy that he had used while fighting, but his muscles still had to recover over time, as he had manage to tear most of his muscles while fighting the people.
As he circulated his energy to recover his muscles, he was able to send out a signal using the nail-like object. After a few seconds, the there was another signal from the other object. The speed at which it happened surprised Darius, but he picked himself up and he walked over to the other signal. Since he was recovering as well, he made sure to not come into conflict with any other beings as he made his way to the rest of his group.
He also knew their plan of attacking other groups on the last day was pretty much done for, as they were able to gain quite a few Medicines from that massive group. But, that also meant that Darius had used far too much energy and he had it recover, but since they still wanted to fight and gain some Medicines, he couldn’t only rest and it would take some time for him to fully recover.
But this didn’t bother him as he slowly recovered his energy and made his way to his friends. After a few minutes of walking, Darius felt that he had enough energy to sustain his body, so he didn’t have to be careful about stressing his body too much and started to jog lightly towards where his friends were.
“Hey, Darius! Over here, phew. We thought that you weren’t able to defeat all those people. How did you do it! There were at least two hundred people there and you managed to take them all down with only yourself! Do you even know how insane that was! There even were a few Rank 4 Core Expanding cultivators among them!”
“Wow, I didn’t think that I would be that powerful, but I guess that I managed to succeed in the end. But, this also means that I will not be able to show my full power for the rest of the competition.”
“Well, that is a fair trade-off, as you managed to gain so many Medicines after defeating the whole group and you can’t forget all the other miscellaneous items as well.”
After a few more minutes, Louise found Darius and they talked as they walked back to their friends. At many points during their conversation, Darius tried to force some Medicines upon Louise, but she always denied them, saying that he had earnt them!
When they arrived, the rest of his friends herded around him and were constantly asking if he was fine, but Spencer fussed about him the most. This surprised Darius, but it also annoyed him a bit, as he was perfectly fine, other than being a bit tired.
“Let me rest for a bit, I am only tired.”
“Are you sure that you are just tired, this could also mean that there is a problem with your heart, meridians…”
Although this was simply Spencer fussing over Darius, it had a profound effect on him, as there was a problem with his heart and his tiredness might have also come from that, so he forcefully ended the conversation by literally running away and once he was sure that Spence wouldn’t bother him, he sat down and examined himself. Once he did that, he saw that everything seemed normal, except for his heart, but the seal he had placed on it was also fine, so he thought that he might be thinking down the wrong path.
Then he closely examined his heart and he saw that there was something wrong with his blood flow. Although it didn’t seem like it was something big, if there was something wrong with his blood, then the consequences would be dire, as his blood was through his whole body and it was the reason why any human’s body could do any actions. If something was wrong with his blood, then if he didn’t get rid of the inconsistency, then he would die or become a cripple very quickly.
Seeing that, Darius calmed his breathing and looked even closer at his blood and he saw that there was quite a bit of vitality in every bit of his blood, but there was another aspect to his blood that seemed like it shouldn’t be there. As he looked at that bit of blood, Darius looked at all the blood in his body as a whole and he noticed that that bit of blood was replicated all around his blood. Seeing that, Darius tried to wash it over with vitality, but that didn’t seem to do anything, in fact it had an adverse effect, the bit of blood created another part of itself.
The bit of blood looked black, but it was an extremely deep black, that seemed to suck in all light. This made Darius think that these were the impurities in his heart, but since his heart was injured, the impurities clumped together and formed these black bits of blood. But, if they were impurities, then it would be very good, as when he managed to get rid of them, then he would be able to become stronger than before, as his heart would have no impurities.
But, if this wasn’t the case, then it would be a problem, as he wasn’t sure what the black specks were in his blood and if they were an aftereffect of increasing his body’s strength too rapidly, then he could only let his bodily strength regress and start cultivating his bodily strength from almost the beginning, but he would then have to build up a strong foundation. Although this would be better in the long run, it would mean that he would have to spend longer to become stronger in his body.
As he continued to inspect his blood, Darius was getting a clearer idea that the black parts in his blood were formed because his body’s strength grew too rapidly and the rest of his body systems couldn’t keep up with it and it caused his current dilemma. Getting up, Darius knew there was nothing that he could do about it beside wait, but it should be fine if he used his body’s strength during the competition, but after that, he must try to use his body as least as possible and wait for his body to become slightly stronger than a Foundation Creation cultivator with his body’s strength alone. Only once that happened, could he cultivate his body again.
This was a great disappointment to Darius, as he was eager to cultivate his body, but he would have to wait at least half a year before he could do so! Sighing, Darius walked back over to where Spencer and the rest were. Once he came to them everything had calmed down and they didn’t bother Darius, as he cultivated for half an hour before standing up.
“Just to remind you, I will not be able to be a major part of the fighting from now on and only if the situation is extremely bad, I will step in, but that could do some serious damage to me.”
After announcing this, Darius went to the back of the group and started to talk to Morgan, while the rest of them started to walk off again. As they came across Medicines, they fought them, but with much more difficulty, as Darius was not participating. Although they managed to collect the Medicines, it took them much longer than usual. This made them sigh in despair, as it looked like Darius was perfectly fine, but from the way he acted when he did help them while they were fighting, they knew he had been injured, as he had only used his energy and not his body, which is the opposite of what he was doing before.
This puzzled the group, but whenever they approached Darius to ask him what was wrong, he managed to get out of the situation very nimbly. This left them flabbergasted and helpless as they couldn’t do anything about it. As they were capturing Medicines, the group was constantly trying to give Darius Medicines, but he would not take them, saying,” If you don’t let me give you some of the Medicines I got from defeating that other group, I will not take any Medicines that you got from capturing the Medicines.”
Since Darius wasn’t helping that much while they were capturing the Medicines, they couldn’t complain that much, so they could only accept this logic and continue on. As they were capturing more and more Medicines, they came across a few groups, but all these groups turned around and ran as soon as they saw this group, as word must have spread out about how they managed to defeat that massive group.
Because of this, the whole group felt butterflies in their stomach’s, but they were not sure if it was signaling something good or bad. But, they also felt some pride, as they had made a name for themselves, although their reputation was mostly due to Darius, so without him, they would not have amounted to much and would be almost the same as any other regular 4-man team.
As they realised this, they could only sigh, as their main attacker, Darius, had been taken out of the fight. Although Darius said that he was injured because of the fight with the other group, his friends knew that wasn’t true, as it seemed that there weren’t any injuries from the outside and judging on how he was fine just after he came back, it must be due to something else, but they couldn’t figure out what it was due to, but they knew it must be serious when they saw the drastic change that had happened in him.
As the day slowly came to its close, Darius was extremely worried, as the seal he had placed on his heart was showing signs of breaking before the competition would have finished. This would spell a disaster to Darius, as Alex and the rest of the group would have to carry him back and then they would have to get an elder or a supervisor to heal him, which would be unlikely, as by that time, it would be very hard to save him. This would be a very bad situation for Darius, as he wouldn’t know if the elders would value him enough to expend quite a bit of effort on him at that point, but if he managed to show them the Medicines that he had managed to get and then told them about his heart, then there was a much higher chance for them to re-seal or even heal it.
This made Darius think very seriously about how he could stop the injury in his heart from breaking out too early. If he could stop it by even half an hour, it would be beneficial to him.
“I think we should set up camp and rest tonight, I think we are all very tired.” As the sun was starting to set, Alex told the rest of the group this and they all nodded in agreement and hastily went about setting their tents up.
Immediately after they had set up their tents, Darius retreated back into his tent and started to ponder how he could stop the seal from failing, while also cultivating his energy. Although he could use his energy to patch it up, there would be adverse affects on his energy after he had done so. If he used his energy, then there was a high chance that his cultivation would regress at a rapid pace, as his heart would be constantly absorbing his energy, as it was trying to heal his heart, but that would be impossible for him with his current cultivation level.
As he slowly circulated his energy through his whole body, Darius felt as if he was being cleansed and enjoyed the moment for a few seconds before keeping his mind back on the task at hand. Thinking very hard about, countless ideas popped into his head, but most of them were completely useless, while the rest had some potential, but when he looked into them further, they also turned out to be useless.
This made Darius sigh in his heart, as he knew that a solution would not come easily, but he still had to find a temporary measure to keep his heart intact. Before Darius found the black bits of blood in his bloodstream, he was using his Vitality to forcefully suppress his heart and seal it, but now he was using the effects of the previous suppression, which would not last too long for him, so he had to find another way to suppress it no matter what.
“Inscribing a rune; no, using a beast’s heart; no…” Quietly muttering to himself, Darius came up with a list of things that he couldn’t do, but he still hadn’t thought up a single thing that he could do! This made him fret to no end.
“Ah, wait! Can’t I use a Medicine!”
After many hours of deliberation, Darius finally managed to realise that he could use a Medicine to re-seal the injury in his heart.
Going through the pouches in his ring, Darius was constantly throwing Medicine after Medicine out. Only after three full minutes of searching did he stop throwing them out of his ring and he was holding another Medicine in his hand. If you looked closely, you would see that this the Medicine that had the Profound Body Art crystal underneath it. As he inspected it, he could see the several piercings that he had put into it while he was fighting it before. Although this might be terrible in normal circumstances, it was brilliant for Darius!
When you pierce a hole in a container of water and as long as there is some space below the bottom, it will not lose all of the water and depending on the depth of the hole, different amounts of water would spill out. This is similar to a Medicine, but the size of the hole determines how much Medicinal Energy would leak out. Because of the previous fight, Darius had pierced some of the leaves of the Medicine, so that would have lost some of the Medicinal Energy, which was perfect for Darius, as he was not able to withstand the Medicinal Energy of a normal 9-Star Medicine, but since these leaves had lost some of the Medicinal Energy, he would be able to use them.
Carefully taking of three leaves, Darius calmed himself down and placed one of the leaves on his tongue and felt a fierce energy flow down his throat and into his stomach, from where it was deposited into his bloodstream, from where it reached his heart, at which he controlled the energy to slowly seep out of the wound in his heart until it wrapped around that area and he ‘bandaged’ it up with the Medicinal Energy from one leaf.
As he felt the leaf dissolve, Darius took another one and also put it on his tongue and he followed the same route, but this time he bandaged his heart from the inside. After that leaf had been used up, Darius put the last leaf onto his tongue and deposited the rest of the energy into his heart, so that he would be able to patch up anything that might happen, as long as it wasn’t anything too major.
Exhausted from focusing on controlling the Medicinal Energy, Darius flopped onto his back and fell asleep. Although controlling energy inside his body was extremely easy, controlling a foreign energy inside his body was harder than controlling it outside of his body, as he would needed to keep a tight control of it and when it was in his heart, any sudden movements would be disastrous, so when he deposited the rest of the energy into his heart, he had to subdue it first, so he would be able to use it when he needed to. But, subduing it was much easier said than done and that is what exhausted Darius the most.
As sleep came over him, Alex woke up and he felt something was different. As he slowly stood up and walked out of his tent, he felt something lock onto him, but it went away very quickly, almost too quickly for him to notice. But, Alex did notice and he instantly put his guard up and tried searching the area, but he found that once he pushed his energy out of the area around the camp, it hit something which seemed like a barrier.
This made Alex even more wary and he tried to prepare himself for an attack from any or all sides. Feeling the air to his right ripple, he dived forwards and rolled across the floor before standing up, but when he stood up, he felt blood trickle down his shoulder blade. Although he didn’t know what hit him, Alex knew that it came from at least thirty metres away and the speed at which it came at him was not to be scoffed at, as it had created enough wind that it caused the air in front of it to ripple!
Looking around for a second, Alex suddenly threw some knives in seemingly random areas. When Darius fought the other group, he saw the effectiveness of these knives and gave them to the rest of the group. Although they were not adept at using them, they could still use them to some degree. After throwing the knives, Alex heard some scuffling in a bush where he threw one of the knives. Jumping straight at it, he heard the person in the bush curse, giving him even more confidence.
But, just as his sword was about to enter the bush, he saw something glint in the bush! Taking it as a knife, Alex used his energy to push himself backwards, so he landed in the area directly in front of the bush and rushed at the bush again, but once he was within an arm’s reach of the bush, he threw his sword with all of his strength at the bush, causing it to stab through his assailant’s shoulder.
Luckily for Alex, it was the person’s dominant arm, so they wouldn’t be able to draw their bow. When the person felt the sword drive into their shoulder, they immediately, got up and started the run, with Alex’s sword sticking out of their shoulder. Since he had already gotten some speed, Alex caught up to the person and grabbed his sword out of their shoulder and he readied himself to strike again, but another arrow came out of nowhere and whizzed towards Alex, forcing him to stop running and watch as the person ran away.
Since the person had not done too much damage, Alex wasn’t angry, but he was afraid of them coming again and sneak attacking them again, since Darius couldn’t help them and he was extremely fearful of the person who had shot the arrow when he was chasing after the first person, as he hadn’t sensed it before and it had been cloaked, but since Alex was being very cautious, he was able to sense it once it was close to him. Even though he did manage to get out of the way, the shot didn’t seem like one that had a lot of effort put into it!
This thought sent shivers down his spine, as he couldn’t imagine how powerful a shot that the person had put all of their power into would be. Running back to their camp, Alex wanted to get out of the trees as fast as possible, so the person wouldn’t have the chance to shoot him. When he came back to the camp, Alex spread out his energy, to make sure that there was nothing waiting for him and he noticed that Darius seemed to feel a bit more alive, even though he was asleep. This made Alex sigh with relief, as he noticed that Darius seemed less animated recently, but he could see that he was fine right now. Going back into his tent, Alex lay there and tried to go back to sleep.
Meanwhile, two people appeared where Alex ran away from.
“How could they have defeated the Assassin Group with that little strength!?”
“Judging from that person’s strength, he should be in the middle of the group, but it did seem a bit underwhelming at how only one person came out and that person was so weak. Although he did easily defeat Kevin, but that isn’t too hard considering that he isn’t too strong. But he might also be hiding his strength as well. But, even if he was hiding his strength, he couldn’t be too strong.”
After that short exchange, the two of them turned around and walked off in the same direction, before disappearing behind the trees. While all of this was happening, all you could hear around Darius, Alex and the rest of the group’s campsite was the soft, rhythmic breathing of people sleeping. After several hours of sleeping, Darius woke up very early.
Although he would have woken up early anyway, he woke up much earlier than he would have on a normal day. As he sat up, Darius realised that this was because of a slight pain in his chest. At first, he thought that it was just a pain, but after a few seconds, he realised that it was right on his heart and he quickly sent some energy into his heart and he saw that there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but the pressure was building up, so there was a slight pain, which caused him to poke a miniscule hole in the ‘bandage’ that he had made, so it would relieve the pressure and make sure that his heart wouldn’t explode.
Luckily nothing much was happening, as this process required Darius’ full attention. This was because Darius didn’t want to make the hole too large, or in the wrong place and he also had to be careful that the energy didn’t dissipate either. Combining all of this, caused some serious difficulty, but by some miracle, Darius managed to successfully complete the operation.
Sighing in relief, he got up and stretched his stiff muscles and checked the perimeter before sitting down in his tent and cultivating. Since he couldn’t cultivate anymore, as his foundation would disappear if he did so, Darius continued to think how he could cross this watershed. After an hour of doing this, Darius had unconsciously circulated his energy through his body and brought it to all parts of his body.
Normally, a person would not be able to do this no matter how hard they tried, but it could only happen when a person was completely immersed in something and it helped with the productivity of the action that they were performing. When this phenomena happened, it would also allow the person to have an increased efficiency in the task they were performing in the future as well. This was caused from the energy flowing into the muscles and other parts of the body and since this was a natural occurrence, this happened whenever the person did a particular thing and as long as nothing drastic happened, the energy could continue flowing like it did.
This was extremely advantageous to Darius, as he was able to think over it carefully, but it was still to no avail and when he stood up, he felt refreshed and alert. Walking around, Darius found that he noticed many more things than when he walked around the camp the first time, but some of his discoveries were quite unexpected.
While he was walking around, he noticed that there were footprints on the ground and for a reason that he could not comprehend, he thought that they were almost half a dozen hours old and from what he saw was that Alex had come out and when he came out, someone shot an arrow at him, as when he was investigating the area, he found an arrow that had been embedded into the ground, only with a small bit sticking out and since it blended into the ground, it was hidden quite well. He also noticed that Alex had run off and chased after another person, but he couldn’t tell anything apart from that, as only a small part of the ground was covered in dirt and, luckily, it was right on the part where Alex dodged the arrow.
This discovery shocked Darius and when he noticed the footprints that entered Alex’s tent, he knew that Alex was fine, but he was even more shocked at himself. Normally, he would say that he was quite observant, but his observation skills were not that good. But, his observation had increased to the point where it would seem like he had eyes on the back of his head, as he would be able to tell what someone was doing, as long as they were directly behind him!
Although he felt alert when he stood up, Darius didn’t realised that it was to this degree! This excited him greatly, as he would be able to discover many things with this. Before this happened, Darius was excellent all around, but his observation skills were one of his worst qualities, but it had suddenly become one of his best qualities.
If his friends learnt of this, they would be extremely shocked, as such a lucky chance only happened once in a thousand people! Looking around the area, Darius noticed that something wasn’t right. Due to his newly gained observational skills, he noticed that there were several bushes that were not swaying as much as they should in the breeze, but it looked like there was something stopping them was waying in the wind, this was also present in some areas in the foliage of several trees.
Spreading out his energy, Darius was going to send it into the areas where he saw that the bushes had stopped moving, but he decided against it, as if there were people in the bushes, there was a high chance that they would notice him, so he simply spread it over the campsite and then covertly brought out his Imperial Aura and spread it over the area and he saw that there were people in some of the areas where he noticed that the bushes and foliage weren’t moving, but most of them had dummies in it that looked like real people which could also be controlled to spring up when someone injected some energy into it.
This was a devious trap, but there was a big problem. From what Darius could see, there were two groups of people that were hiding around them. From what he saw, one side of their camp had been blocked off by one group and the other side had been blocked off by the other group. But, because of this, they wouldn’t be able to tell if the other group had acted, as they were not in immediate vision of the other groups and based on what he saw, they had a method of communicating, but it would require someone to pick it up and use it if the person who was in possession of it dropped it. Knowing this, a plan formed in Darius’ mind.
Although he could have woken up the rest of the camp, Darius didn’t want to cause a ruckus, as both groups were paying close attention to their camp, but Darius didn’t know the reason why they hadn’t started to attack yet, as attacking early in the morning was a very common military tactic and it worked extremely well against people who were not expecting an attack. From what he could see, Darius thought that they were waiting for someone or something.
“Hey, just how long do we have to wait, my arse is aching from sitting on this branch like this,” Above Darius’, a youth impatiently asked the person sitting next to him this question.
‘Shh, you do know that just because we are hidden, it doesn’t mean that the sound we make is masked! Apparently, we have to wait until the ‘commander’ comes. I don’t know who this ‘commander’ person is, but they seem very important and powerful. From what I have heard, the ‘commander’ is coming as a countermeasure against the trump card that this group has to be able to defeat the Assassin’s Group!”
“Oh, then I think that waiting is worth it, so we don’t get wiped out.”
“Now be quiet, I think the brat below us heard something, but he must have thought it was just the wind.”
While they were talking, Darius pretended that he was trying to find where the source of the sound was, but he made sure not to actually find any of the people that were hiding and as he was searching, he slowly came closer and closer to the area where one of the groups were hiding. As he slowly approached the area, Darius knew that he would have to get the person with the communicator and once he seized the communicator, he would have to deal with this group and once he had done so, he would be able to tell the other group to retreat!
Darius chose to attack this group, as the person with the communicator was on the ground and it also seemed like it was slightly weaker than the other group, but this was all estimation, so he wasn’t sure about their actual strength. Since it was normal for a person to put up a bubble of energy to survey their surroundings, Darius had done so. So, he was able to feel when the other party’s energy stopped surveying him, so he ran out of their detection range and then walked back in.
Since a they would be able to feel a bubble of energy, Darius decided to camouflage into the background, so he was not noticed by the person surveying the area, as he had used his energy to mask himself. Sneaking up to the person with the communicator, Darius went up behind him and knocked him out and when the people near him noticed, Darius knocked them out before they could call for help. It was a flawless performance and since he had used his energy instead of his vitality, his heart wasn’t affected at all.
Keeping the communicator in his hand, Darius didn’t want to put it in his ring, as he was afraid that it would cut off the connection with the other communicator and cause some problems, so he held it. He also was going around and knocking out the people hiding, while not forgetting to take their rings as well. While he was ambushing them, Darius found that most people tried to call for help when they saw that one of the people in their little group had been knocked out in one hit, but there were only a few that actually tried to fight him and surprisingly the people that tried to fight were the hardest ones, as they could also call for help at any time and it was much harder to instantly take them out, causing him to be pushed into situations where the rest of the group was almost notified.
But, Darius had quickly set up a barrier of energy, while also keeping some of it open, so the transmission from the communicator wouldn’t be blocked, but it wouldn’t let out any sound in the direction of any other people, so he was able to avoid many dangerous situations. After around half an hour, Darius had managed to get rid of all the people on the ground, but there were still people in the trees.
Although there were not many people, they were spread out over a large area, so it took time to get to each of the groups while trying not to be spotted by the groups in the trees. This is what caused him to take half an hour, even though he had only knocked out around thirty people! This number might not seem like much, but all of these people that were surrounding Darius and his friends were not normal and they were a bit stronger than a normal person taking part in the competition, but they were still no match for Darius.
Since he had defeated thirty people, Darius noticed that it was around half and there were still thirty more people to go. Normally it would be very hard to climb up a tree without being noticed, if someone had been designated to watch the tree trunk, so Darius knew that he would have to attack them without getting noticed and he had managed to come up with a plan.
As he was walking to one of the trees where people were hiding, Darius picked up some large, sturdy sticks and he made them as aerodynamic as possible, while not making them too sharp. Once he had done so, he took the sticks and make holders for them out of leaves and other materials found on the floor of a forest.
Sneaking over to the the base of one of the trees that had people hiding in it, Darius walked ten metres away from the tree trunk and he took out the sticks he had made and put his energy into them and threw them all at once, but once he threw them, the holders he had made fell away, but it caused the sticks to change direction, so each stick was aiming towards each person and they all reached their targets simultaneously, although several people noticed something flying towards them, they couldn't move out of the way and ended up being hit and they fell from the tree, as Darius had put his energy into it, causing the people destabilize and fall of the tree.
When they were falling, most people used that time to make sure that they landed on their feet, but the ones that were caught completely off guard didn’t have that luxury and fell and they were lying down when they hit the floor. Since they had been in a few fights, they knew that being on the floor was the worst position to be in, but most of them were winded, while some had broken ribs, this was because they hadn’t used energy to soften the fall. Being winded meant that they couldn’t get up and Darius used to his advantage and attacked the people that were standing up, as he could deal with the other people later.
But, the people that had landed on their feet were very alert and when Darius attacked the first person, they had started to turn around, but they were knocked out before he could do anything, but Darius was forced to dodge a few attacks, as the other people were very alert and noticed that he had attacked their teammate and attacked him. Once he dodged the attacks, he moved on and dispatched the other people and by that time, the people that were winded before had picked themselves up and started to attack Darius, but they were still a bit breathless, so Darius had an easier time and then he knocked out the people that had broken their bones and took all of their rings. In total, there were 8 people that he had knocked out and he was quite happy with the plan he had come up with.
When he had first come up with his plan, getting the people in the trees was his biggest headache, but as he was ambushing the other people in the bushes, he had managed to formulate this plan and since it was very effective, Darius wondered if he could become a master strategist in the future!
He didn’t let that thought linger in his head for too long, in fear that something else might come of it and he collected the sticks and the holders and when the next tree came into view, he adjusted the holders, so that when the fell off, they would redirect the sticks to hit the people in the trees. Since he had defeated all the people on the ground, Darius wasn’t bothered by them shouting, as there would be no-one to hear them, so he wasn’t worried about them shouting for help, but he was worried about them running and finding help, so he still had to knock them out quickly.
Using the same method as before, Darius was able to knock them out fairly easily, but this time, someone tried to run and get help, so Darius was forced to knock out the rest of the people quickly and run after the person. Although the person ran towards the right direction, he was faced with misfortune, as Darius was able to run extremely fast with the help of his energy and he caught up quickly and also knocked the person out, but he had used up quite a bit of energy in total and he knew that he would have to conserve energy if he wanted to take out the people in the last tree.
Walking over there, Darius made sure not to use too much energy, but he also used enough that the journey wasn’t cumbersome. When the tree was within view, Darius saw that there were eleven people in this tree. This made sense, as there were twelve people in the last tree that he had defeated. This meant that there were sixty people in the group in total and half of them were on the ground while the other half was in the trees.
If the other group that they had defeated was the Assassin’s Group, then these two groups would be the Fighter’s Group. Although the Assassin’s Group was stronger than the Fighter’s Group, it only was because they were united, but if the two groups joined together, then they would be much stronger than the Assassin’s Group and Darius and his friends would have had serious problems while facing them, as Darius wasn’t able to fight with his full strength. But if Darius fought by himself when he was at his full strength, there was a high chance that he wouldn’t be able to defeat them, as they had some truly strong characters, but that would only happen if he wasn’t willing to show his trump cards.
Throwing his sticks at the people in the tree, the sticks hit everyone but one person who managed to dodge the stick and Darius didn’t know if it was by luck or skill, but the person was quickly knocked down by another one of the sticks. While he was throwing the stick, Darius didn’t waste any time and ran towards the people that had fallen down and he saw that they had all landed on their feet, this surprised Darius, but since the only people that they could notify was the other group, Darius wasn’t too bothered, as it would take them quite a long time to run to the other group.
But, he was low on energy since he needed to be prepared for something to go wrong when he contacted the other group, so he simply knocked out as many as he could while using as little energy as possible and ran after the other ones that tried to escape. He quickly caught up to them, but when they saw that he was right on their tails, they split up, causing him a slight headache. But, he managed to knock them all out regardless and once he had done so, he calmly walked back to the campsite.
But, as he was walking along, the communicator lit up and a voice came out of it, making Darius jump,” The commander has arrived, how long until your commander arrives, over?”After a few seconds, Darius responded,” Our commander hasn’t come yet and we are not sure when they are coming, over.” After he said this, he turned the communicator to silent, as he had found this feature when he was responding to the other group. Once he had done so, Darius realised that the commanders must be very strong to be held in such regard by such a large group and he wanted to test himself against one of them to see how he measured against the elite of his generation.
Darius decided that he would try and find the commander from this group so he walked around the area, but he couldn’t find any sign of a single person so he quickly went back to his campsite and turned the communicator off silent and once he had done so, he received a message,” How much longer until your commander comes, our commander is getting impatient, over.”
He realised that this was the perfect time to make the other group go away and he said,” I had just received a message that our commander has met some problems and wouldn’t be able to come any time soon, so he decided that it wouldn’t be worth coming, so we are retreating, over.”
“I will ask our commander if we should retreat as well or if we should continue onwards, but just know that in the future we will not help you all that much with other things, over.”
At the end, the person saying this seemed a little annoyed and once they had finished saying this he cut off the connection between the communicators and Darius. So that they would have no way of tracking him in the future, Darius threw the communicator in a bush. Once he arrived back at the camp, Darius placed a few Medicines in each of the tents as it was still very early and everyone was still asleep.
Sitting down, Darius realised that he had used quite a lot of his Imperial Aura to continually keep an eye on all the people, so he sat down and started to cultivate it, but he set up a barrier so that his aura wouldn’t leak out and cause problems, but he made sure that he could sense everyone outside of the barrier. Changing energy into his Imperial Aura, Darius found that it was extremely rejuvenating and he also checked out his blood’s problem and he saw that the Imperial Aura had a miraculous effect that seemed to suppress the black bits in his blood, but he knew that it was a temporary method and he was certain that he would have to wait for his body to adjust for those black bits to go away.
As he slowly recovered his energy, the rest of his friends woke up and the other group decided to retreat, taking a massive weight off Darius’ shoulders. After the rest of the group had woken up, they all noticed that there were some Medicines in their tents and they were very confused and when they saw that Darius was awake, they realised that it might have had something to do with that and when Alex got up, he immediately spread out his energy and after several minutes he was sure that there was no-one waiting to ambush them.
Before he put the barrier down, Darius made sure to suck all the energy out of it so that his friends wouldn’t feel like they had to bow down towards him, as that would be very embarrassing. He also knew that once he put his barrier down, he would be asked about why there were Medicines in their tents.
Preparing himself, Darius lowered his barrier and once the group noticed that the barrier was down, they surrounded him and looked at him for a second before Louise asked,” Darius, why were there some Medicines in our tents. If you say that you fought some Medicines overnight, then I am not taking a single one!” Although she sounded quite calm at first, at the end she was quite vicious, as if to tell him that she was absolutely never going to take one Medicine if he got them from fighting Medicines.
Sighing, Darius slowly said,” Although I didn’t get these Medicines from fighting them, I still got them from fighting. Before you woke up, there were two groups of people that wanted to ambush us and I looted one group and made the other one go away and these are my spoils,” Darius was about to pause, but he saw that Alex was about to rebut him and not let him give them any Medicines so he continued quickly,” but I wouldn’t be a good friend if I took all the loot, as you were in danger, as when I was fighting one group, the other group could have launched an attack and you were fast asleep and I hadn’t warned you about anything, so if something happened, I could only blame myself, so I had to give you the Medicines.”
Although Alex was going to say something, he slowly closed his mouth and let it go, as he could see that Darius wasn’t going to budge from his views and knew that it would be pointless to argue with him. Although he wasn’t going to say anything about the Medicines, Alex did have something to say to the whole group. Clearing his throat, Alex told them,” Since we have a lot of Medicines, we shouldn’t hunt too many Medicines, as the tallest trees experience the most wind and right now we are too weak to shine too brightly. Although we had very little chance to get first place, there was a much larger chance that we would rank in the top twenty and standing out too much would be detrimental, so we should aim for the top 50, as it would mean that we would get some attention, but not as much as the people in the top 20 and above. Also, in the top 20 and above, there would be some people that are absolute monsters and have gotten far too strong. Although they have been privileged and gotten special treatment their whole lives, it is still their strength and there is no way for people like us to catch up to them without receiving anything from the Sect. So, once the competition is over, we will have to make sure to put in our all to catch up and hopefully become the top 6 in the whole Sect! Now let us go and enjoy this last day.”
During the day, Alex, Darius, Louise, Silora, Morgan and Spencer enjoyed their time and leisurely fought Medicines and they only fought a total of three before they felt a strong energy wash over them and a monotone voice entered their heads,” You will be teleported back to the courtyard in 30 minutes.”
When they heard that, they realised that they had spent a phenomenal amount of time messing around as they had only managed to defeat 3 Medicines in the whole day. But, this didn’t make them want to fight more, but it made them all sit down and chat while they waited for the competition to end. Although they were cautious about sneak attacks, the atmosphere was very light and there was quite a bit of laughter.
After thirty minutes had passed, they all were teleported back to the courtyard and once they had done so, almost all the people there were feeling dizzy from the teleportation, but Darius didn’t feel that anything was wrong and was quite confused as to why everyone was dizzy. Some people also noticed that their talismans had disappeared when they were teleported back.
After everyone had recovered, they all realised that they were in their respective Halls. Quickly scanning over everyone, Darius saw quite a few figures that seemed familiar, but he couldn’t find any of his friends and he realised that the people he recognised were probably people that he knocked out, but he wasn’t sure.
“Hoho, that was a very interesting competition. Now, we will get everyone to show us the amount of Medicines that you have received. You will get to keep all the Medicines that you have collected and it is up to you to how you should use them. But, if there is any dishonesty when presenting the Medicines, there will be serious consequences.”
While Darius was pondering, a loud voice announced that they would be judging the Medicines.
“To judge the amount of Medicines, just step up to the platform and place your Medicines on the orb, you can decide who goes up when.” When the person was saying this, it seemed that they didn’t care who went up, seemingly asking for them to fight, but a shrewd person ran up before anyone could do anything and placed his Medicines on the orb. Although there weren’t many Medicines, they were all quite good quality.
From what Darius could conclude, there were several elders watching the happenings in the courtyard and were judging each one of the new disciples to see if there were any with exceptional potential. Although each of the elders had scouted out the disciples, they couldn’t be sure as to how powerful they were and that was why there had been the competition and now the order of presenting the Medicines.
Although Darius didn’t want to get involved with the battles to go up and present Medicines, he knew that he would have to if he wanted to get his heart treated and healed, so he waited patiently until he thought the time was ripe for him to show off his skill. While he was waiting, Darius mentally noted anyone who he thought would make a worthy friend or someone who would not be good to have as an enemy.
When he finally decided to make a move, the person that he was going to fight had already been challenged a few times and had come out on top, so Darius decided to make him his stepping-stone.
“Is there anyone else who wants to challenge me?”
Darius then stepped up in front of the person and took out his spear without saying anything. Waiting for the other person to get ready, Darius didn’t take the initiative and waited for him to attack.
Although Darius had good intentions, the other person thought that he was insulting him and he charged straight at him. This made Darius wonder how this person managed to defeat so many people and nimbly dodged his attack before going for his back, but the person’s control over their body was surprisingly good and managed to deflect the attack. Since the person he was fighting had a short-sword, he could attack much easier than Darius and since their weapons were locked against each other, Darius knew that he had to retreat as fast as possible and get out of the person’s attacking range.
But, this had some skill and made it so that Darius wasn’t able to get out of range in time and he made Darius use his energy to evade the attack. He was trying to conserve as much energy as possible, as he didn’t know how long he would have to fight before he would be able to present his Medicines.
Since he had already used his energy, Darius knew that to minimize the usage of his energy, he would have to use some more energy to finish the challenge as fast as possible. Letting his energy run through his body, Darius felt as if he was as light as a feather and could do almost anything and ran in to strike at his opponent. Although it seemed like he was going to attack him, Darius stopped at the last possible second and jumped over the other person’s head and while he was above them, he thrust downwards.
Although his goal wasn’t to kill or cripple, he wanted to achieve a complete victory. Since he didn’t want to kill or cripple, Darius held back, so that the person would be knocked out and wasn’t too seriously injured. While he was making his finishing move, Darius looked like a devil to his opponent and the last thing he saw before he was knocked unconscious was a vicious glint in Darius’ eyes.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Darius waited patiently for a few seconds and during that time, most of the people below were shocked, as they had seen his opponent's strength and for Darius to be able to defeat him so easily, they were unsure about fighting him. But, some people were extremely arrogant and thought that they were better than anyone else, so one person came up.
“Be my stepping-stone!” Shouting this out shamelessly, the person took out several knives and threw them at Darius. This made him remember the group that he defeated that used throwing knives. With his insane perception, Darius was able to conclude that this person had very little physical strength, but was quite good at using throwing knives. He knew that once he was in close, there was no way for his opponent to be able to effectively fight him.
Nimbly dodging the knives, Darius tried to get close to his opponent, but they were quite good at evading and Darius was only able to get in range a few times, but they were still able to dodge Darius’ attacks. Since he wasn’t using his energy and since he couldn’t use his body’s strength to its full, he wasn’t able to finish the match. After a minute of this game of cat and mouse, Darius decided to end it.
As he was running forwards, he used the smallest amount of energy to push him forwards just enough so that he was able to catch up to his opponent and perform a low sweep with his spear, taking out his legs. Once he had done so, Darius was going to knock the person out, but they conceded before he could do anything.
During both of these encounters, Darius had done managed to defeat them calmly and elegantly. In the first one, it wasn’t evident that Darius had the upper hand, but at the last moment, he burst out with tremendous strength and defeated his opponent and in the second one, he had clearly held the upper-hand, but his opponent was like a cockroach and was extremely hard to kill, so the fight was longer, but again, at the last moment he burst out with strength and took out his opponent. But, he had done all of this effortlessly, causing some commotion within the disciples and had gained the attention of some of the elders.
After a few seconds, the crowd had calmed down and another person came up, but they had little skill and was easily defeated by Darius, but as soon as he had defeated that one person, another person came up and challenged him, but they were also defeated without any effort. This happened several times before he was challenged by someone with actual skill. Based on the previous fights, Darius gathered that this person was the one who had made several people with no skill challenge him so that they might tire him out.
Since this person had some evil schemes, Darius decided to treat him ‘well’. Before he wasn’t trying at all and now he had decided to put in a bit of effort and when his opponent was rushing at him, it seemed like he was moving in slow motion and Darius stepped to the side at the last moment and the blade almost cut him, but it was a literal hair’s breadth away.
As everything seemed like it was in slow motion, Darius was able to grab the hand of his opponent and throw him to the floor. Once he was on the floor, Darius took his opponent’s sword and threw it away before picking him up and throwing him across the courtyard. The size of the courtyard was so large that you would be able to fit several football stadiums inside of it, so Darius wasn’t able to throw him across the whole courtyard, but he was still thrown quite a distance.
Although it might not seem like it was painful, Darius managed to throw him in a way that made him sail over everyone’s heads, but once he landed, he skidded across the floor… face-first. One could imagine how painful it would be.
After he sent that person flying, no-one else challenged him and he was left to present his Medicines to the orb. Slowly placing them in one by one, Darius realised that he had managed to gain a monstrous amount of Medicines over the past three days. After half a minute, Darius had managed to put all of his Medicines in the orb and he injected some of his energy into it and all of the Medicines popped out and Darius put them back into his ring.
Just as he was about to step down from the platform, a shadow swept down from the sky and grabbed his wrist. This startled Darius to the point where he was paralyzed for a second, but once that was over he tried to get out his weapons, but he found that he couldn’t move. The shadow then felt his pulse and after a second of silence, the shadow flew back, but this time he was carrying Darius as he flew away.
While he was being carried by the shadow, everything was moving too fast for him to see anything, but his eyes had been covered with energy at some point that allowed him to keep his eyes open. The feeling of flying through the sky with nothing underneath him was surreal and as the earth flew by underneath him, Darius lost consciousness.
When he woke up, he found that all of his clothes were gone, but he still had his ring and he was laid down on a bed. Sitting up, Darius looked around him and he found that he was in a well furnished room and that there were some clothes that were neatly folded up on a table across from his bed. Putting them on, Darius realised that they looked similar to the robes that the elders wore, but it was much more plain and looked less regal.
Something else he noticed when he put the robe on was that it was a protective treasure. It was comfortable enough to wear everyday and it was strong enough that it could stop the attacks of any normal Mortal Cultivator. Although this might seem extremely powerful, most Mortal Cultivators couldn’t match up to a Beast of corresponding Stars, so they were not too powerful.
Walking around a bit, Darius found that he liked these clothes a lot and it seemed as if they were tailor-made for him. After a bit of time, Darius found a door and tried to open it, but it was locked, so he started to cultivate and once he started, Darius found something that shocked him. As he looked around his Dantian, everything seemed fairly normal, but he felt that something was normal and when he looked towards his core, Darius realised what it was that seemed off.
Once he looked at his Foundation, Darius was able to see what he had to do in order for it not to disappear. Although he wasn’t able to directly see what he had to do, his Foundation was giving off the sense that he needed to do a particular thing for him to break through. At first he thought that his foundation was telling him to cripple his cultivation, but after a few minutes, he realised that it was telling him to completely destroy his Foundation, but to not touch his core.
Taking in a deep breathe of air, Darius pushed all of the energy inside his Core into his Foundation. The energy flow was like a river, seemingly endless as it poured out from his core. As it crashed against his Foundation, it was slowly chipped away and an unknown amount of time, his whole Foundation had been completely decimated, not a speck remained.
Once he had completely destroyed his Foundation, Darius held his breathe, as he wasn’t sure what was meant to happen and he knew that if what he had done was the wrong course would mean that he could die at any time in the near future. After a full minute nothing had happened and Darius was starting to wonder if he could continue on cultivating without his Foundation.
But, as he was thinking this, all of his Imperial Aura suddenly started to stir and it all rushed towards his Core. At first, it was hard to determine what was happening, as a large amount of Imperial Aura was moving around in his Dantian, but after a few seconds, Darius could make out some vague shapes. Although he could see these shapes, Darius never expected that in the next half-minute, his Foundation would reform, but using Imperial Aura instead of Energy.
With a Foundation of Imperial Aura, Darius was sure that his Foundation would be incredibly strong and there would be nothing that could shake it, meaning that he would be able to fly to greater heights in the future. Letting out a sigh of relief, Darius opened his eyes and he saw that there was an elderly man sitting on a chair in front of him.
This person’s presence surprised him, but then he realised that he must have been brought to this room for a certain reason.
“Good, good, good,” saying good three times, Darius must have surprised this old man as well,” I am Elder Sacred-Skyfire, sorry for what happened before, but while you were placing your Medicines in the orb, you managed to secretly put a 9-Star Medicine in. This truly shows your strength, but while you were fighting, some Elders saw that there was some problems with your heart. So, since I am Elder Arrow-Heart’s master, it is only appropriate that I am the first person to greet you. Since Elder Arrow-Heart recruited you, you are now part of the Inscription Hall, take this card and drop some blood on it and it will allow you to go anywhere in the Sect, as long as you have clearance to go there. These books will tell you most of the things that you need to know about the Inscription Hall and what facilities you can use and what they do. I will leave you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and I hope that you will be able to soar high past us all in the future.”
After Elder Sacred-Skyfire said this, his body seemed to have become smoke and disappeared. When the elder disappeared, Darius let out a sigh of relief and inspected his body and he found that his heart had been completely healed. The amount of surprises today for Darius were shocking, but what he didn’t know was that the Elders decided that he had won the competition, so he would soon be receiving quite a few rewards.
Now, he would be able to get rid of the impurities in his blood even easier, as before his heart was healed, he wasn’t able to burn his vitality, as that would place too much stress on his heart, but now it was fixed, he could burn it all easily and allow his body to adjust to his strength. In a normal case, a person would burn their vitality in a crucial situation where they needed all their strength, as burning their vitality allowed it to show its full potential, but Darius needed to burn his vitality so that his body could adjust.
Although he could burn his vitality now, it would leave him weakened and now he needed to see what he could do in the Sect, so that he would be able to contribute and reach greater heights. Taking the books, Darius read through them and based on what he read, they were a more detailed version of what Iago told him about the sect. It included the cost of using training rooms and the like.
Just from reading the catalogue of some items that he could get from trading in Treasure Points, Darius was extremely excited and felt that he would be able to excel if he got his hands on one of them. Putting down the catalogue, Darius looked at the rest of the books that were left and he saw that there was one that looked like a cultivation manual. Picking it up, he noticed that it wasn’t a cultivation manual, but it was a Inscriptioner Manual. After reading through it a bit, Darius understood what it was.
There were many types of Energy in the world, but most of them could be put under three categories: Spiritual Energy, Mental Energy and Blood Energy. Spiritual Energy was the energy that cultivators used to become stronger, Mental Energy is what Inscriptioners used to make Talismans and other things like that and Blood Energy was what people who trained their body used to make themselves stronger. The Inscriptioner Manual should be called a Mental Energy Manual, as it taught whoever used it how to use and cultivate Mental energy.
Sitting on his bed, Darius followed the method that the manual told him and he felt something being stored in his brain. The place where Spiritual Energy was stored was the Dantian, the place where Blood Energy was stored was the heart and the place where Mental Energy was stored was the brain. As he felt it build up in his brain, Darius wondered if he could use the same method as when he was looking at his Dantian and heart to look at his brain.
When Darius tried, he found that he was actually stimulating the energy in his brain and caused some of it to flow out. Although the other types of energy flowed through his body, Mental Energy seemed to follow a different method of circulation and is started to flow around Darius. Since Darius didn’t try for too long, there wasn’t much energy floating around him, but it seemed to form a ring around him and Darius hypothesised that it would form a bubble when enough was poured out.
Since he didn’t know what to do with it, Darius tried to absorb it back into his body, but he found that he couldn’t do so through the conventional methods of cultivation and after a few minutes, he realised that since he owned the energy he should be able to command it like normal energy. But, after trying that, he found that he couldn’t do anything with it through that method either. Pondering, Darius had no clue as to how he was meant to control it and decided to read through the whole manual.
While he was reading through it, Darius found that the manual gave a basic introduction to Mental Energy and how to cultivate it, but not how to control it. The cultivation of it required him to breathe in a similar way to when he was cultivating a breathing technique, but there was a difference that made the Mental Energy. Sitting down and thinking about it, Darius’ train of thought wandered and he started to think about what the ring of energy could do.
Based on what he had observed, the energy could be touched, but it was difficult to touch it, as it moved out of the way whenever something moved close to it. This made him wonder how he was meant to use it on Talismans and Formations, as he had read that Mental Energy was used in Talismans and Formations.
Shaking his head, Darius focused back on the task at hand and he also started to cultivate his Mental Energy more and while he was doing so, Darius found that he was able to ‘see’ the Mental Energy in the area around him. Him ‘seeing’ the energy wasn’t entirely correct, as his eyes were closed, but it seemed that it was his Mind’s Eye. ‘Opening’ someone’s Mind’s Eye was a by-product of training Mental Energy and at his current level, Darius was able to see stronger points of Mental Energy in the surrounding area, but his vision was blocked by walls, which meant that he could only see his Mental Energy that was surrounding his body in the room.
Using his Mind’s Eye to examine his Mental Energy, Darius found that it was barely visible and since he couldn’t look into his own brain, he couldn’t tell what the comparison between the two was. As he was looking around, Darius wondered if this state had anything to do with controlling Mental Energy and when he tried to control it, he found that he was able to control it. Moving it around, Darius found that he was able to control it much easier than controlling his energy before he broke through to Core Traversing. This was quite shocking, as he had only just figured out how to control Mental Energy, while he had been using energy for the past four years.
As he controlled the Mental Energy, Darius slowly brought it back into his own body and he also realised that he didn’t have to activate his Mind’s Eye to control energy, all he needed to do was control his breathing, so that he was breathing in the way that the manual told him to cultivate his Mental Energy. By doing this, Darius was also able to cultivate more Mental Energy and he felt it build up inside his brain.
After several hours, Darius finally stood up and he decided to look around the Sect. In one of the books he had read, there was a map that showed Darius where to go for certain places. The first place that he wanted to go to was called the Skylaw Palace. Skylaw Palace was the place where most of the techniques were placed, but as he walked out of his room, he saw that Iago was standing there, seemingly waiting for him.
“Well, it seems that Mister First-Place has finally come out of seclusion.” When Iago noticed Darius, he smiled lightly and said hello in his own way.
“What do you mean Mister First-Place?”
“You don’t know… Well, to put it bluntly you came first in the Entry Competition and you also managed to gain the attention of one of the old eccentrics, do you not know how to stay low-key? Anyway, come along, I will show you around the place and tell you a few things while I’m at it.”
“Sure, let’s get going.”
The two of them had known each other for a very short amount of time, but they seemed like brothers and were very friendly. As he followed his Elder Apprentice-Brother, Darius was shocked to see that they would be travelling around on a slim platform made from something that looked like crystal. When Iago stepped onto the platform, Darius was slightly hesitant, but after half a second, he stepped onto the platform.
Once he had stepped on it, Darius felt his hair going everywhere because of the wind, but for some reason, the wind didn’t sting his skin, but it was very refreshing and he was able to keep his eyes open without them watering up. This felt quite nice and accompanied with the scenery, Darius was enjoying the trip so far. As they flew over the land, there were several large buildings that were close together and Darius was sure that they were where most of the normal disciples lived. There were several large buildings and other small ones, but the most impressive features that they passed over were the small mountains.
These mountains were not as large as the ones he had seen before, but they were still quite impressive and Darius could see several entrances, so it seemed that the higher level disciples actually got a mountain residence. This excited Darius, as he saw that these mountains seemed to be a natural occurrence and there were several mountains that he saw that were unoccupied. What an unoccupied mountain meant for Darius was that he would be able to get a residence in one sooner or later.
Only after half an hour of flying did their platforms start slowing down. Although this might not seem like much, travelling on these platforms were at least three times faster than the Flamingo that Iago and Darius were on when they travelled here. Even as they were slowing down, they were going much faster than a commercial aeroplane.
As they were slowing down, Darius was able to make out the shape of a tower in the distance and the shape slowly became clearer until Darius was able to make out the tiny details of it. At a distance, the tower looked mysterious, but as you came closer, it lost its feeling of being mysterious, but it started to become imposing, profound and let off a slight arrogant temperament.
Looking at it in awe, Darius couldn’t help but let his mouth drop open and sigh in admiration. Not only was the tower imposing, it was coloured with a rich red and an incredibly dark black that seemed to be a void, with nothing going in or coming out of it. Slowly, they descended and Darius carefully stepped off the platform and once he had done so, they whizzed off into the distance.
“Elder Apprentice-Brother, why don’t you use this to go around on normally?”
“Well, I would like to go around on the Crystal Platform normally, but they require a special formation for them to work efficiently, so it is impossible for me to travel on it normally, so leave any thoughts of using it to travel around, unless you are willing to sacrifice countless energy stones for it.”
Just thinking about wasting countless Energy Stones that he could use for his cultivation, just for him to travel on the platform made sweat form on his brow. Wiping his forehead, Darius asked,” What is this tower?”
“This tower is where most the weapons are stored. It is called the Earth-Retribution Palace. I brought you here so that you can get a weapon that has some worth, at the very least, it would be much better than your current weapons. Come on in.”
As they walked towards into the tower, Iago waved his card in front of film of energy and he passed through and he indicated that Darius should do the same. Waving his card, Darius walked through the energy. As he was walking through the energy, Darius felt something mark him. When he felt this, Darius realised that this mark would be a countermeasure against any intruders and would also monitor his every move while he was inside the Palace.
Following his Elder Apprentice-Brother into the Palace, Darius was extremely shocked by the appearance of the inside of the Palace. When they first passed through the film, there was a small courtyard, but once they walked into the main body of the Palace, everywhere they looked, there were weapons. At first he saw some Mortal Weapons, but there were only a few of them and as he looked around a bit more, he saw that a majority of the weapons here were Earthen Weapons.
“Hehe, before you step into the hall, I have to tell you something. To be able to get any weapon, you will have to walk down over to it and get it. For the first 300 metres, there are Mortal Weapons, after that there are Earthen Weapons and they go on until you reach 3000 metres, but these weapons are only mid-grade ones. From 3000 metres until 6000 metres, there are high to top-grade weapons. After that there are only thirty more weapons, of which are all Heaven Grade weapons. After 6000 metres, there is another 2000 metres of nothing. If you are unable to continue on in this area, you will not be able to get any weapons, but if you manage to continue on, there is one Heaven Grade weapon and they continue on until you reach 9999 metres. If you manage to reach 9999 metres, one of the Grandmaster-Level Inscriptioners will make you one weapon of your choice.”
“Elder Brother, have you managed to reach 9999 metres?”
“No, only the true geniuses of the Sect are able to reach that far, but I have managed to get a Top-Grade Earthen Trident called Hateful Reckoning, this is one of the reasons why I was able to become on of Elder Arrow-Heart’s disciples.”
Hearing that, Darius realised just how hard it would be for him to get a good weapon. Although he had the Heat Source Stone, it would require him to actually make a weapon for him to be able to use it effectively and since he didn’t know how to create weapons yet, he couldn’t do anything about it yet, so getting a good weapon now was also a good idea.
“Also, apart from the first time, you will have to pay 100 Treasure Points to be able to attempt to get a weapon and whatever distance you reach, the next time you want to get a weapon, it must be something at or above that distance, so don’t try to exceed your limits and aim for something that you can’t get, but be realistic and try to get something that you can actually achieve.”
Stepping out into the Palace’s main hall, Darius felt an intense amount of pressure pushing down on him. This pressure was similar to the suppression of a superior cultivation, but it was slightly different, as it wasn’t formed because of cultivation, but because of the Weapon’s untamed nature, which slowly became more savage and intense as Darius walked down the path.
At first, the pressure wasn’t too intense, but once he passed the 100m mark, the pressure almost doubled, which caused the unsuspecting Darius to almost fall over, but he continued on and when he had reached the 200m mark, he was ready for the pressure to increase, so he wasn’t affected so severely. When he reached the 300m mark, Darius was also ready for the pressure to increase, but when he passed the 300m mark, the pressure increased exponentially and Darius started to sweat.
Although every step was not laboured, walking was much more difficult that he would have liked. As he walked along the path, there were several other people also walking along the path. When they passed Darius, some of them were sympathetic, while others were filled with scorn for him, but he carried on regardless.
The time it took for him to go from 100m more was double what it was before, but once he had walked 100m, there was no increase in pressure, so he was relieved, but also worried, as he didn’t know when the pressure would increase by a large margin again. Taking each step with caution, Darius had unwittingly garnered the attention of quite a few people. By using their cards, people were able to check who was who and from what their cards told them, this was Darius’ first time in the Palace and when they saw that he had actually managed to reach the Earthen Weapon region, they were all surprised and they thought back to when they first attempted the Palace and how they had done and they all had to look down in shame.
Taking step after step, Darius slowly progressed down the hall and he felt the pressure slowly increase as well, but because it was increasing at a constant rate, he was able to adapt to it so, as he was walking along, it actually became easier to walk down. This caused Darius to be quite shocked, but he wasn’t sure how or why the pressure was slowly lessening. This was because, unbeknownst to him, his Imperial Aura Foundation was affecting his body and since his Imperial Aura had a trait of adaption, Darius was able to adapt to the pressure.
As he walked along, Darius was able to gain some speed and each of his steps weren’t as laboured and soon enough he crossed the 1000m mark, causing him to feel the pressure increase drastically. The pressure increase this time wasn’t double, but it was quadrupled! This increase of pressure instantly made Darius fall over and cough out some blood.
He lay there for several seconds before struggling to stand up. This made Iago, who was standing at the entrance to the hall praise Darius in his head, as he was still able to get up, despite being pushed down to the floor and after coughing out blood. As Darius struggled to get up, he wiped off the blood that was dribbling down his chin and managed to take a step forwards.
Taking another step, Darius found that he felt his Vitality start to become aroused without any actions on his side. As the Vitality washed through his body, Darius felt that the impurities in his blood was slowly being cleansed, but it would require quite a lot of time for it to completely recover. When he realised this, Darius decided that the pressure was a good place to cultivate, so he sat down and started to cultivate. Although he wasn’t cultivating his Vitality, he was still cultivating and the impurities in his blood were slowly being cleansed.
But, when he sat down and started to cultivate, everyone that was paying attention to him was quite shocked, as they had never seen someone who was struggling so much actually sit down and start cultivating. At first, they thought that he was trying to recover energy, but some of the more experienced disciples realised that he was actually cultivating. Some of the people that were watching him took inspiration from this and they went to the furthest point that they could and started to cultivate.
As he cultivated, Darius realised that if most of the impurities in his blood disappeared, then he wouldn’t have to burn all of his Vitality, so he cultivated for half an hour before he stood up again and walked forwards another 200 metres before he sat down again and started to cultivate. He only walked 200 metres because the rate at which the pressure increased also quadrupled, so he wasn’t able to continue on for too long. Another reason why he got up was because the rate at which his blood was being cleansed decreased drastically and he wasn’t cultivating as fast.
As his blood was slowly cleansed, Darius’ cultivation was also progressing. From early Rank-1 Core Expansion, he managed to reach peak-early Rank-1 Core Expansion in a matter of half an hour. This speed is quite insane and it was due to Darius’ talent, the density of the energy and the pressure being emitted. But, after a while, Darius found that he wasn’t able to cultivate too much, as the pressure was becoming too much and he wasn’t receiving too much of a benefit from the pressure either.
So, Darius got up and started to walk normally. Since his blood had been somewhat cleansed, he could use a part of his body’s strength and he was able to walk without too much of a struggle, but when he passed the next 1000m mark, he found that he had to basically crawl to be able to continue forwards, but he still did so and he kept close to the wall, so that when he wasn’t able to continue on he would be able to easily get a weapon.
Slowly, he progressed forwards and the pain he was bearing was intense and soon enough, he skin began to split, as the pressure was splitting them apart! Darius managing to reach this far was a miracle in of itself, since everyone thought that he wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure. Taking one step forwards, Darius stopped paying attention to everything else and he took one step, then another and another and another.
Taking everything step by step, Darius was only looking straight ahead and wasn’t caring about all the looks of praise he was receiving, but only taking one more step. Step after step, Darius felt as if it was the last step he could take, but he took another one regardless. Slowly, more of his skin started to split and blood seeped out of his skin and flowed down his back, face, arms and stained his pants red.
Sweat and blood mixed and splattered all over the floor, but Darius still walked on step by step. Lifting his leg became extremely painful, as a muscle must have been completely torn, but he still continued on. As blood streamed down his face, Darius slowly closed his eyes and took another step. But, as he was taking the step, the leg that was on the ground trembled and then collapsed, taking Darius with it, but as he was falling, Darius put his hand out and grabbed one of the weapons that was next to him.
He had managed to reach 2300 metres! Managing to reach that far with a cultivation of Rank-1 Core Expansion had not been achieved, ever. Although he managed to set a record, Darius fell unconscious as he was falling, but he still managed to grab the weapon. Once he grabbed the weapon, there was a bright flash of light and Darius appeared at the connecting hall of the Palace. When he appeared there, Iago sighed, but he still went over and picked him up before getting onto one of the platforms which flew away quickly.
When he woke up, Darius thought that he was still in the Earth-Retribution Palace, but he realised that the pressure was far lighter. As he tried to open his eyes, Darius found that there was something covering his eyes, but once he tried to open them, the object that was covering his eyes quickly went away and when he tried again, he was able to open his eyes. As his eyes opened, light flooded them and he had to blink several dozen times before he was able to get a clear image of what was happening.
Standing over him was a man with an object that emitted light that was shining into his eyes. Beside him was Iago and there was another man standing next to him. They seemed to have been talking, but Darius waking up seemed to have interrupted them.
“Hmm, it seems that he had recovered much faster than I expected. All signs are normal, except for the fact that most of his muscles are still recovering. If he wasn’t moving around right now, I wouldn’t be able to believe the results! In less than two days, he managed to completely recover from what seemed like several semi-mortal wounds!”
As his eyes fluttered open, the man holding the object that emitted light commented to Iago, which caused him to laugh and say,” If you want consider it like this, he is like a cockroach, it is very hard to keep him down!” Although he was still waking up, Darius could hear what Iago said and he wasn’t sure if he should laugh or cry.
Coughing a few times, Darius reminded everyone else about his presence. When he did this, the person standing next to Iago spoke up,” Darius Stone-Chaser, I’m Elder Arrow-Heart’s Elder Apprentice-Brother, Elder Golden-Hands. When my master came before, he noticed that you broke through and managed to reach Core Expanding, so he told me to come and give you several manuals. There are a few martial techniques and some Inscriptioner manuals as well. Learn as much as you can from them, as they are the foundational manuals and everything is based on your foundation!”
While Elder Golden-Hands was saying this, he took out several manuals and placed them next to Darius. Seeing this, Darius had a sense of deja-vu. When Elder Sacred-Fire had come, he had also given Darius some manuals and told him to try hard.
“Oh, I can’t forget the weapon you struggled so hard to forget.” Just as Elder Golden-Hands was about to leave, he reached to the table and took a long staff and gave it to Darius.
Once he took the staff, Darius was dazed for a second. Although the staff didn’t look like anything special, once he touched the staff, he could feel the intricate design. It looked like it was made of wood, but it felt like it was made from a special metal. There was a large amount of weight in the middle and the two ends of the staff, which when held correctly balanced perfectly. It was extremely dark, but it wasn’t black, but it seemed to be brown. Just from looking at it caused someone to feel a chill go down their spine, as it was always letting off a cold aura. This aura was similar to the heat released from the Heat Source Stone, but it was less intense and more controlled.
Sitting in his bed, Darius spun it around a few times and was extremely excited about getting a new weapon, but he had to put it down, as he was in front of polite company and an Elder.
“Thank you Elder, one day, I hope to be the pride of the Sect!”
Once he put down the staff, Darius sat up and half bowed to the Elder, since his body wouldn’t allow him to bow properly. When he entered the Sect, he wasn’t sure how he was meant to act towards Elders, but when he went to the Earth-Retribution Palace, he saw several people bowing towards Elders, so he realised this was how to act towards the Elders of the Sect and he felt quite sheepish when he considered how acted towards Elder Sacred-Fire.
Elder Sacred-Fire was his Grand-Master, his master’s master and he was not respectful towards him! Just thinking about it made him slightly dizzy and he didn’t want to think about the consequences of him not being too respectful.
Once he bowed to Elder Golden-Hands, the elder left the room after the others in the room had bowed, which told Darius that the person holding the object which emitted light wasn’t an elder, but from the way he talked to Elder Golden-Hands, it seemed that he had a special position in the Sect. When that person took his leave, only Darius and Iago were left in the room.
“Elder Brother, who was that person.” After a few seconds, Darius asked Iago who the person who had just left was.
“He is a special case in our Sect. He is an Inscriptioner, but a special one that deals with Medicines and healing more than inscriptions, alchemy and the all the other stuff. But, just by focusing on healing doesn’t make him special, what makes him special is that he is extremely talented at it and he had gained the nickname of the ‘Young Medicinal God’. Although we have several Elders that specialize in healing, he needs to have some practice, so he has to treat some people. But, don't think that you were used as a test subject and had a chance of serious injury. As of yet, no-one has not been healed once they had been passed through the Young Medicinal God’s hands. Also, I do not know his name, but his close friends call him Brilliant-Soul, so that could be considered his Daoist name. Oh, on that note, you should consider taking up a Daoist name as well. I’ll come in a few days so that you can study these manuals and when I come, I will take you to the Treasure Palace.”
Taking his leave, Iago wondered what Darius would make his Daoist name be. Usually, when someone takes up a Daoist name, they would keep it for their whole life and wouldn’t change it, unless they had to add a title to the beginning. Leaving Darius to himself, Iago had to train as well. Usually, he would spend quite a bit of his time training, but since Darius came to the Sect, he had to spend quite a bit of time showing him around the Sect, meaning that there was less time spent training. Because of this, he had to bitterly train in the few days he had ‘off’.
When Iago left, Darius immediately, picked up the Staff. As he looked at it, he realised that he didn’t know what it was called, so he inspected it to see if there was a name on it and he saw that there was! It was called the Stony Nightstaff. Based off this, Darius was able to come to the conclusion that the Staff was made of a metal of some description and the cold energy it released had some connection to the night.
Walking over to a clear area of his room, Darius swung it around a few times and got a feel for the weapon before moving on to the manuals. Reading through them, Darius saw that they gave a detailed description of how to make Talismans, how to do some parts of synthesising weapons and other details of being and Inscriptioner. Once he finished reading that manual, Darius spread out the other manuals. One was called ‘Basic Decree Movement Technique’ and when Darius read the opening page, it said that if someone fully mastered the all the levels of the technique, they could go anywhere they wish.
Another Manual was called ‘Basic Heavenly Weapons Technique’. This manual was much thicker than the Movement Technique. This was because this one had an amalgamation of all of the weapons that the Sect had and each one listed a technique. Since Darius had a staff, he flipped to the ‘Basic Heavenly Staff Technique’ part of the manual and read through it. On the first page, it stated that if you master the technique, you would be able to strike through the heavens and split the earth open, sweeping everything in your path away.
Of course Darius didn’t take those words too seriously, as if the technique that the Sect gave out initially had the power to do that, then why would they bother with any other techniques? But, as Darius read the manual, he realised that it was a great foundational technique, as it could be moulded, so, technically, if you apply this technique to another extremely powerful technique, you might be able to strike through the heavens and split the earth open!
Reading through the Movement Technique’s manual a few more times, Darius followed what it said. Circulating his energy in the way that the manual said and moving in the way the manual said, Darius found that he was able to move much faster than he normally would, but by doing so, he was using up energy at a fast rate and he estimated that he would be able to keep the technique up for an hour before he ran out of energy, as long as he was in his peak condition, otherwise, the time it he would have to use the technique would be less, so he needed to train it so that he would be able to use it for longer and make it more effective.
After that, he decided to have a proper read through the Staff Technique and at the level at which he could train at, it simply gave him a set of movements and told him to master it, but based on what he read, there were special abilities that could be learnt at later layers of the Technique. This made Darius want to learn the technique even more and he immediately started to practice it. As he was practicing it, Darius was also cultivating his Mental Energy. Since he was part of the Inscription Hall, he would have to become better as an Inscriptioner.
After an hour of practicing the technique, Darius found that he had managed to use up quite a bit of energy and he sat down and started to cultivate. As his energy was slowly recovering, he was also contemplating how he could use his new technique and how powerful he would be if he fought someone.
After four days of continuous practice, Darius was sitting cross-legged in the centre of his room, absorbing energy and pushing it into his core, as he was slowly trying to comprehend the two techniques. As he was comprehending the techniques, the energy that was going into his core seemed slightly different. Some of the energy seemed to be extremely spontaneous, while some of it seemed to have the atmosphere of a serpent and there was other parts which didn’t have any other elements.
This change in his energy is what caused Darius to become extremely contemplative, as he was trying to understand why his energy would become like that while he was trying to comprehend the techniques. He figured that if he managed to understand why his energy reacted like that, he would be able to comprehend the techniques much easier. He inspected everything to do with his energy, but he found that there was no explanation he could give, so he gave up for the time being and inspected his energy itself.
Darius found that the energy was exactly the same, but it seemed to let off a different atmosphere from normal energy. As he examined this atmosphere, he found that there were some similarities to the techniques. The spontaneous energy seemed to be quite similar to the Movement Technique, while the serpent-like energy was like the Staff Technique. This made Darius realise that if he could draw some inspiration from this energy, he would be able to comprehend the techniques much faster.
After several hours of inspecting the energy, Darius found that he wasn’t able to concentrate too much, so he decided to cultivate his Mental Energy and while he was cultivating it, he found that he was able to gather Mental Energy much faster than before. This made Darius realise that trying to comprehend difficult things exhausted him mentally, which meant that his brain cells were in the optimal state to absorb Mental Energy!
Once he felt that he could concentrate more, Darius went back to contemplating the techniques. This continued on until Darius heard a knock on his door. This knock made Darius remember that Iago was going to bring him to the Treasure Palace. Getting up, Darius used his energy to freshen himself up and opened the door.
When Darius opened the door, he saw that Iago was standing there.
“Hello, how have you done with the techniques that you have?”
“Well, I have managed to gain some insight from them, so I guess it is okay.”
“What! You have already managed to gain some insight into them, you do know that it took me an entire month to gain any type of insight from the techniques and my speed wasn’t slow either!”
As Iago entered the room, he was shocked by Darius’ comprehension. Although he didn’t know what level of comprehension Darius had managed to reach, to be able to say that he had managed to gain some insight was very good.
“Can you show me what you have learnt?”
Taking out the staff, Darius circulated some energy and struck out in accordance to the manual, causing a bitterly cold wind to go through the room. This made Iago shocked, as he never expected Darius to be able to become so skilled in such a short time. From what he could tell, Darius still hadn’t comprehended that much and had mastered the basic movements, so he wasn’t too flexible in actual combat, but he had some comprehension, so he was able to execute the technique quite fluently.
Just as Iago thought that Darius was going to stop, he started to move in a way that seemed impossible to follow, which startled Iago, as he thought that Darius’ main accomplishments would be in the Staff Technique, but it was actually in the Movement Technique. Based on what he saw, Iago knew that Darius had managed to gain Minor Completion of the technique.
To gain any sort of Completion of a technique wasn’t a measure of how much of the technique you had gone through, but how you apply it. To be able to gain Minor Completion, Darius had to understand the basics and then apply some of his own comprehension to the technique. Normally, it could be said that Darius had managed to gain Minor Completion of the basics of the technique.
Although Darius managed to comprehend so much in a short five days, they were only foundational martial arts, so they weren’t hard to comprehend. Although Darius managed to comprehend a lot, he didn’t know that he was doing it at an abnormal rate, so he thought that he was average and wasn’t confident about choosing a more advanced manual.
“Well, it seems that you have progressed quite well with the techniques, but don’t be too proud, as there are several geniuses that are much stronger than you. You must aim to succeed them and become the strongest! Now, come I’ll take you to the Treasure Palace. When we get there, I will be able to explain the Treasure Point system.”
Walking out, Darius and Iago jumped onto two different platforms and whizzed off to the Treasure Palace. When they came to the Treasure Palace, Darius saw that it was similar to the other Palaces, but it seemed to be much taller and had several layers. It was a deep purple colour with stripes of vibrant orange. This unseemly colour combination worked quite well, as the purple seemed to be mysterious, while the orange seemed playful and open, forming contrast that made Darius wonder what was inside the Palace.
As the platforms slowly came to a stop, Darius jumped off it and followed Iago into the Palace. Once he entered the Palace, he was surprised to see that it was a miniature grassland inside! There were several places which had a cobbled path. One of them was some stairs, which lead to the higher levels of the Palace and some parts of the path had several exchange centres. The only reason why Darius was able to tell what the exchange centres were was because there were the large words ‘Exchange Centre’ above the centres.
“Darius, you see those Exchange Centres, they are where you can exchange your materials for Treasure Points. You can also get Energy Stones, Pills and other miscellaneous items here as well. Inside the centres, there is a board telling how much you can sell or buy each item for. Come, follow me, I’ll show you the Request Board.”
Following Iago down the cobbled path, Darius realised that the further they went down the path, the more people there were. When he noticed this, Darius asked,” Why are there more people over here than at the beginning?”
“Think about that for a second before you ask me again.”
As soon as he asked the question, Iago told him to think and very quickly, he realised that the energy here was quite dense, which must be the reason why people were hanging around later on in the path.
When he realised the answer, Darius felt that they were truly smart, as it didn’t cost anything to enter the Palace and they were able to absorb energy at a much faster rate. This was very smart and opportunistic.
“But, the only problem is that the energy here has some ‘attitude’. This ‘attitude’ makes the energy unwilling to co-operate and is much harder to control, but if you are able to subdue the energy, then cultivating here isn’t a bad idea.”
If Darius was a normal person, subduing the energy would have been a problem, but because he had his Imperial Aura, he would be able to subdue his energy without much effort, so if he could cultivate here, his cultivation speed would increase greatly. Keeping this in his mind, Darius and Iago eventually made it to the request board.
‘3 Rank 7 9-Star Emperor Sky-Snake Cores. Requested by Elder Red-Star (1,000 Treasure Points)’
‘Requesting exploration team. Team requirements: Rank 5 Core Expansion. Spots filled 5/12. Requested by…(50 Treasure Points).’
There were many requests that were made and it seemed like it was a board, but that only showed a few things, like the Sect’s most wanted and special requests, but once you put some energy into the board, then you would be able to see all the requests. As he quickly skimmed through the requests, he noticed that most of the requests were aimed at people from Rank 5 Core Expansion to Rank 9 Core Reforming.
This made Darius sigh, as he was only Rank 1 Core Expansion, so he had to cultivate more to be able to participate in the Requests. This didn’t dishearten him, but rather, it made him want to cultivate even more. But, from this request board, he was able to see that Treasure Points weren’t too hard to earn, as a Rank 5 Core Expansion cultivator was able to get 50 Treasure Points for one request and a someone who could fight Rank 7 9-Star Emperor Sky-Snakes was able to receive 1,000 Treasure Points.
Normally, if they hunted a Beast, they would be able to sell its Core to the Exchange Centres, but sometimes Elders require some materials or something else, they would ask for it on the Request Board. For them, it was much cheaper than buying it from the Exchange Centres and for the disciples it gave them much more than selling it to the Exchange Centres.
This system was beneficial to both sides, as they both earned something out of it. When he was skimming through the board’s contents, he noticed that there were many requests which were asking for a assistant for Alchemy, Synthesising and other similar jobs. This made Darius realise that the different paths of Inscriptioners were quite useful.
“Now, I must show you the Main Palace of the Inscription Hall. Here, you will be able to rent out a room where you can use a Medicinal Furnace to do Alchemy, a Synthesising Room where you would be able to create weapons and a Medicine Garden. But, all of these cost Treasure Points, so you will not be able to use them for too long. Also, the Medicine Garden’s cost depends on how many and what Medicines you take out. “
As they went outside of the Treasure Palace, they both stepped onto the platforms and as they were flying, Iago pointed out several smaller Palaces which he told Darius were Sub-Palaces of the Inscription Hall. This made Darius quite surprised at how far they were apart and he also noticed a few places which looked like the Sub-Palaces, but they had different colour schemes and also a slightly different design.
After several minutes, they arrived at the Inscription Hall’s Main Palace. Walking in, Iago said,” Over here, are the rooms which you can rent out, here are a few Medicines that can’t be found in the Exchange Centres and over there you can find a few Elders that are wandering around and if they are willing, they might answer some of your questions about Inscriptions,” Iago paused for a breath, but when he did so, he took out his card and looked at it for half a second before putting into back into his ring,” I will leave you here for a bit, Master has summoned me.”
Swiftly exiting the Main Palace, Iago stepped onto the platform and left. This left Darius alone to wander about. As he looked around, he saw that there were a few people standing around and were talking, but it was obvious that they had formed an energy barrier, so no-one could hear them. As he looked around, Darius noticed that they were selling many Medicines, but they all had prices which were above 100 Treasure Points, except for a few which were much lower in quality, but they were much cheaper when compared to the prices at the Exchange Centres.
After a few minutes of looking around, Darius stepped onto a platform and flew back to his room. Once he entered his room, he started to cultivate and comprehend the techniques.
Since he was training, Darius had lost all sense of time, but he knew that he had been training for an extended period, so when he finally stopped training for some time, he was able to check how long he had been training for. Luckily, the Sect had a clock in every room, so when he checked it, he was able to see that he had been training for half a month.
When he saw that, Darius wondered what had happened to his Elder Apprentice-Brother. Before, he had only left for 5 days, but for some reason he hadn’t come in half a month. But, Darius didn’t let it bother him and started to cultivate his Mental Energy, since he had exhausted it from trying to comprehend the techniques.
When someone who doesn’t cultivate Mental Energy tried to comprehend something, they would have to wait for their Mental Energy to recover naturally, but this was quite slow, so many cultivators cultivated Mental Energy on the side, so that they could continue cultivating for longer periods of time and it also boosted the speed at which they could comprehend techniques as well.
As his Mental Energy filled up, Darius realised that he seemed to be reaching a bottleneck while cultivating Mental Energy. From what he could gather, he was reaching the 1 Star stage. Once he managed to reach 1 Star, he would be able to become a proper Inscriptioner, as he would be able to make Talismans and other things with his Mental Energy, which would be much stronger than the Talismans he had made during the Redfern Plains Competition.
Although right now, he could use his Mental Energy to do certain things, once he stopped consciously controlling it, the Mental Energy would disappear, so if he made a Talisman using his Mental Energy, when he stopped controlling the Mental Energy, the Talisman would stop working, so he couldn’t use his Mental Energy in that way, but once he passed into the One Star Stage, he would be able to make Talismans using his Mental Energy.
Knock, knock, knock.
Another half-month passed in a flash and on the thirty-first day of his training, there was a light knock on his door. Although he was immersed in training his Mental Energy, Darius got up in a flash and immediately opened the door. When he opened the door, he saw that his Elder Apprentice-Brother was standing there!
“Darius, I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to contact you in the past month, as Master had arranged some special training for me! But, now, I’ll take you to the other places in the Sect.”
Over the next few days, Iago showed Darius most of the places in the Sect. But, while being shown around, Darius realised that something was different with Iago. There was a sense of urgency that wasn’t there before. This worried Darius a bit, but he didn’t delve into it too deeply, as he knew that Iago wasn’t willing to share his troubles.
But, the final place which Iago had to show Darius was the Skylaw Palace, which was where Darius planned to go first, but it ended up that he was going there last. But, Iago left this for last, as he wanted Darius to be able to see all the other places, so he would have an idea about what type of manual he would look for when he needed to buy one.
As they flew to the Skylaw Palace, Darius wondered what had happened, over the past month, to Iago. When they arrived at the Skylaw Palace, Darius was awed by its appearance. It was much more majestic than any of the other places that he had been shown. It pierced through the clouds, so Darius couldn’t see the top of it. But, the height wasn’t the most impressive part of it. Floating around the Palace were several hundred objects which looked like rocks. It seemed that they made a formation, as there was a formless pressure that was naturally emanating from it.
But, the most terrifying part of the Palace was that, if needed, it could become a weapon of mass destruction and crush almost anything! Knowing that it was a weapon made it even more terrifying to walk into.
As Iago walked into the Palace, Darius hesitated, but he still walked into it and saw that there were many people in here, more than in any of the other Palaces, but from what he could tell, they were all Core Formation Cultivators. This was confusing to him, as most people wouldn’t be able to enter the Sect at Core Formation, yet there were more than 100 here!
“The first floor of the Skylaw Palace is for Core Formation cultivators, the second to the tenth are for Core Expansion Cultivators of their respective rank, so a Rank 1 Core Formation Cultivator would only be able to go to the second floor, but nothing above that. This pattern goes on until the 64th floor. The 64th floor would be for someone at Rank 9 Sky Reaching, the second layer of Sky Treading, which is the realm above Core Traversing. But, the 65th floor is only for Elders, so even if a person is at Heaven Chasing, the layer above Sky Reaching, they wouldn’t be able to access the 65th floor through normal means, but if a cultivator at Core Sealing, the layer below Sky Reaching, was an elder, they would be able to use the 65th floor. From that floor to the 99th floor are for Elders of their various statuses and the final floor, the 100th is a legendary floor, which only the most talented cultivators would be able to use, not even our Grand-Master would be able to peek into that floor.”
This information shocked Darius even more, as he wondered how powerful the techniques must be at the 100th floor. Just thinking about it made him want to become a genius of the Sect, but first of all, he wanted to see what the second floor held. But, as he looked around, Darius saw that there wasn’t any stairs for him to take.
“Well, it seems that you have noticed. To get to the next floor, you will have to go to the area over there and release your aura and if you meet the requirements, you can choose which floor you want to go to.”
Walking over to the area, Darius noticed that there was a formation on the floor. Releasing his aura, Darius felt an image of the Palace to pop up in his head, but he could only see the first two floors. He then chose the second floor and he felt a force pulling him up and all of a sudden, he was on the second floor.
Although he was greatly mystified by this, he didn’t let it bother him and he walked around the floor. There were several labels, such as ‘Cultivation Methods’ and ‘Sword Techniques’, because of this, he went to find one which showed Staff or Polearm Techniques, or some other interesting techniques. As he walked by, he saw many different types of techniques, but quite a few of them were quite abstract and he didn’t dare to step on those paths, as they were unlikely to be the correct path for him.
Although he could send out his Mental Energy to check out everything in the floor, he didn’t dare, as he was worried that he might trip some mechanism that could annihilate him, as the Skylaw Palace was a weapon afterall. After several minutes, Darius had managed to find the Staff Techniques area. As he looked at it, he saw that there were at least three times more items in the ‘Sword Techniques’ and he wasn’t sure how many more there were in the ‘Cultivation Techniques’ sections, but it was much larger than all the other abstract sections.
As he skimmed through the different manuals, he was shocked, as they all sounded quite profound. Although you couldn’t judge a book by it's cover, some of them were still quite entrancing. But, he couldn’t let himself get lost in the aisles, so he didn’t spend too long looking at any one manual.
Most of the manuals had very flashy covers, with gold or some other precious metal covering it, so it looked very majestic and some manuals went as far as putting some small parts of an energy stone on the manual, so it had an aura as well! But, none of these caught Darius’ eye, rather, an unassuming manual, hiding behind several other manuals caught his eye.
It had a musky brown cover that seemed to be leather, but Darius knew that it was the hide of some powerful beast, as it had a majestic aura, but it wasn’t too intrusive and only appeared it you looked closely at the manual. From what he could tell, there was no words on the front of the manual, but he saw that the price tag was at 500 points!
As he had been to most of the places within the Sect, he knew that 500 points was a lot. With 500 points, he would be able to buy enough Medicines for him to make many different Medicines, he would be able to go the the Earth-Retribution Palace 5 times, so there was a chance that he would be able to get 5 other Earthen Weapons! But, one unassuming manual for staffs costed that much as well! Since it was the second floor, Darius wasn’t expecting to see anything above 200 points, but this manual more than doubled that.
This price was more than Darius could afford, since he could only get 100 each month. Although this seemed like a lot, he would need to buy things like Energy Stones and training rooms, so that he wouldn’t fall behind his peers. This alone would cost more than 100 points, as it would cost 30 points to rent out a training room which was slightly above average for a day. This amount of points could be gained without too much of a problem, but not spending them was a problem.
The atmosphere in the Sect was very competitive, with many changes in the rankings of each person. For example, Darius could be considered the strongest person among the newcomers, but at the end of the year, someone might have used all of their points on training, so they could exceed Darius if he used most of his points on techniques and not training.
Because of this, Darius couldn’t afford to spend 500 points on a manual and when he tried to flick through the pages, he found that there was a seal on it, stopping him from opening it and he also noticed that they were on all the other books, but the first few pages weren’t as they were an overview of the manual, but this one only had its first page unsealed, which was very surprising as it only had the words ‘A Staff can pierce the Heavens and sweep everything in its path away, nothing can ever come in its way!”
Seeing these words, Darius realised that they sounded somewhat similar to the words at the beginning of the Heavenly Staff Technique. But, this convinced Darius even more, as he realised that the foundational techniques all had a very profound meaning in them, so if this technique elaborated on it more, it would be perfect for him.
But, since he couldn’t afford the manual, he returned to the first floor, where Iago was waiting for him.
“What do you think, did anything catch your eye?”
“Yeah, there was this manual in the Staff section, but it didn’t have a name and it wasn’t adorned with any jewels or metals, but it seemed to be made of a high-class beast’s hide!”
“Hmm, there are a few of those on the second floor, but they are too expensive, it would have been at least 400 points, am I right?”
“It was 500 points, I don’t think I will be able to get it anytime soon, but how good are these manuals?”
“Well, I have heard from some of my seniors that there was this one person who had actually managed to comprehend one of these manuals and that person became even stronger than our master! So I assume that these manuals are very strong, but they are too hard to comprehend. Buying them isn’t a problem for many of the people in the Sect, but comprehending it is too hard and there is also a special condition to be able to comprehend them and that is that you are Core Expansion Cultivator, so there is very little hope of anyone comprehending it, as it is simply too profound.”
After he said that, Darius went back to his room and he continued to cultivate.
Since Iago had shown him all of the areas where he could go, Darius decided that he would try to break through to become a One Star Inscriptioner. Although he could go into his room, Darius decided that he wouldn’t do that, but that he would go to the Treasure Palace, as he would be able to cultivate much faster there and he found that he was able to cultivate Mental Energy faster in places with denser Spiritual Energy.
Although he could rent out a training room, he decided that he would need to find a way to make some Treasure Points before he could spend them, as he would end up broke with no way to get points if he didn’t. So, he sat down at one of the points which he felt had the most energy and started to cultivate his Mental Energy. Using his Imperial Aura, Darius was able to subdue all of the other energy and he was able to cultivate his Mental Energy quite quickly.
After a few short hours, Darius felt that all of his Mental Energy was welling up, making it impossible to cultivate it any more, as he felt as if it had reached a barrier that he would need to break. Although he could simply use all of his Mental Energy to smash it, that could cause him some brain damage, so he had to be careful. Slowly he lead his Mental Energy to the barrier.
Although it wasn’t a barrier, it was very similar to one. Using all of his Mental Energy, Darius put as much pressure on it as he could, but this didn’t seem to be enough. So, he thought how he could break the barrier without being too violent. Slowly, he came to the conclusion that he could condense his energy, so that it would be able to have more force behind it, so he set about condensing his Mental Energy.
Since he was condensing his Mental Energy, he was able to cultivate more of it, so he found that the amount of Mental Energy he had was doubled and it was twice as potent as before. Now, he pushed all of his Mental Energy onto the barrier and a few cracks started to show. But, when those cracks appeared, he didn’t continue to push, but he got all of his Mental Energy and slowly threaded it through the cracks in the barrier. Once most of his Mental Energy had passed the barrier, he used that energy to savagely crash against the barrier to make it break.
If Darius was going to break the barrier through brute force he might cause himself brain damage, but since he had gone to the other side of the barrier before breaking it, all of the Mental Energy simply washed back into the other Mental Energy, not causing any problems, since he wasn’t rashly breaking the barrier.
Luckily, Darius had thought this through, so he was sure that he would be fine. But, when he broke the barrier, he felt that there was something different about his Mental Energy. At first he didn’t know what it was, then he realised that this was the effect of breaking through to become a One Star Inscriptioner. Now, his Mental Energy was able to linger in the world, so he could create Talismans, pills, weapons and so on.
Once he had finished breaking through, Darius stood up and he looked around and he found that he was much more alert and he felt that he would be able to comprehend some things that he couldn’t usually. Feeling this, he immediately sat down and started to contemplate the two techniques.
Usually, Darius would spend a few hours contemplating the techniques, but this time, he spent half a day contemplating each one of the techniques! During that half-day, he was able to understand a bit more about the essence of the techniques and he felt that he could move on to the second part of the techniques, but he knew that he should do that later, but now he should try and make some talismans.
Getting up, Darius went to one of the exchange centres, where he bought some tools that would help him make Talismans. He bought a tool which was made of a metal and had a sharp edge, similar to a scalpel, so Darius would be able to inscribe the Talismans. He also bought a few books on inscribing and in total, it costed him 80 points.
Although this might not sound like much, it was quite a lot for someone who had just entered the Sect, but the only reason why it was so expensive was because it allowed the person who bought it to get an income. As soon as he got these, he headed back to his room. Since he didn’t buy anything to put the inscriptions on, Darius decided that he would make Talismans out of some of the Medicine he managed to get from the competition.
Taking out one of the ones which was a 3 Star Medicine. Plucking off a leaf, Darius placed it on his table. Taking out the scalpel, Darius put some Mental Energy into it and he found that it seemed to become more complete now. Slicing downwards, Darius made sure not to pierce through the whole leaf, but he also made sure that there was enough space for Mental Energy to flow through it.
Slowly, but carefully, Darius inscribed a rune onto the leaf. The rune was one the one which meant block or barrier. By simply carving a rune, there could be countless forms that it could take, but when you put energy into it, what you meant would become true, as long as it works. For example, if you took the rune meant for sharp weapon, it could be a sword, spear or a glass shard, but you couldn’t make it a pole, as a pole had no sharpness to it at all.
As he looked at it, Darius saw that it looked exactly as it should, but when he activated it, he found that the result was quite unsatisfactory, making him wonder what he was doing wrong and he read through the books he had gotten again. While reading through them, he found that in this leaf, there were several places where he had cut too deep and he also realised that he would need to make a talisman with the intent for it to serve its purpose, as then it would full take form.
Taking another leaf, Darius tried to inscribe the same rune, but he found that carving the correct depths was incredibly hard, so he had failed quite a few times and he had to take a leaf from another Medicine. Although he was able to control his strength quite a lot, the way the rune was made it incredibly hard to get the correct heights all the way along.
Fail after fail, Darius was slowly becoming more used to inscribing the barrier rune and after countless tries, he had managed to make one successful Barrier Talisman. Since he had managed to make one successfully, Darius was filled with a hope and he managed to make three more, but after that he failed a few more times before he was able to make one more.
He estimated that at first, he had around a 0.5% chance of succeeding, but after that, the success rate increased to 7% and after a few hundred more tries it was up to 25%! To Darius, this was frustrating, as he felt that he had some mastery in drawing the Talisman, but only 1 in 4 would succeed, but he had managed to amass quite a few Talismans. Using his Mental Energy, Darius collected all of the failed Talismans, as they could still be used as Medicines, but their quality would be quite low.
As he got up, Darius looked at his clock and he saw that it had been around 3 days! This shocked him, as he felt as if he had only spent a few hours on it, but he had also cultivated quite a lot, as he frequently ran out of Mental Energy.
Taking his succeeded Talismans, Darius took one of the platforms to the Treasure Palace. There, he walked over to one of the Exchange Centres and soon after a person came over to him and they asked him what he wished to do.
“I wish to sell Talismans.”
Once he had said that, the person told him to wait for them to get one of the Elders, so that they could judge his Talismans and see how much they would be worth. After a minute, the person came back with an Elder.
“Hmm, the Talisman doesn’t seem too bad, but since it is on a low quality Medicine’s leaf, it hasn’t reached its full potential, show me the Talisman’s effects.”
Injecting some Energy into the Talisman, it lit up and formed a barrier. When the barrier formed, the Elder walked up to it and threw a punch, which caused the barrier to shake slightly, but nothing else happened, so the elder gathered some strength and punched again. This time, the barrier shook violently, but that was all.
This shocked the Elder, as this punch of his would have been able to break through the defences of a normal Core Expanding cultivator and from the Elder’s calculations, Darius was only a 1 Star Inscriptioner, so the Talismans that he made should have similar abilities to a Core Expanding cultivator, once considering all of their treasures and abilities. The Elder then gathered some Energy and threw another punch, which caused the barrier to have quite a few cracks and then he threw another punch of similar strength and the barrier broke.
“Phew, that was quite impressive, it was able to survive two of my mid-powered hits, so it should be able to block two all out attacks from a Core Unsealing Cultivator, so each Talisman at that level would be worth 3 points. How many of these do you have?”
After thinking for a second, Darius replied,” 137, with 100 being of that quality, 20 of half that quality and 17 that are half of that.”
“So that would mean that you will have a total of 357 Treasure Points from all of these Talismans!”
Taking out these Talismans, Darius also took out his card, the Elder then looked at the card and suddenly, a numbered appeared on his card, saying 477, which he assumed was the amount of points that he had.
“If you even need anything concerning Talismans, ask for Elder Snow-Fire and I will try to help you.” Hearing that, Darius nodded and walked off. Outwardly, he was perfectly calm, but inwardly he was inexplicably excited! Since he was able to sell 100 of these Talismans for 3 Points meant that his skills in creating Talismans was equal to that of a 3 Star Inscriptioner, which is equivalent to a Core Compressing Cultivator! Although that didn’t mean that he was able to do everything to that level, it meant that he was able to make quite powerful Talismans and although he was ‘rated’ at 3 Stars, he wasn’t any normal one, as his barrier was able to block two hits from a Core Unsealing Cultivator, which was a bit more than a normal 3 Star Barrier.
This was also the reason why the Elder had wanted to make some connections with Darius, as he was able to see that Darius was able to create multiple 3 Star Talismans while he was only a 1 Star Inscriptioner, as he was able to use his Mind’s Eye to see how much Mental Energy Darius had, since he was a much stronger Inscriptioner.
Looking at his card, Darius saw that he had 427 Points that he could use. After a few seconds of consideration, he decided to rent a training room. Since he wanted to use a better training room, he was prepared to spend 30 points per day. He also wanted to buy a few Energy Stones, but since they only had to be 7 Star Energy Stones, they wouldn’t be too expensive, only 5 points for each stone. This was well priced, as they would be able to last for a good amount of time.
Going to the flying platforms, Darius used his Mental Energy to inspect the platforms and when he did so, he was able to get the gist that all of the platforms were connected in some massive formation, but once he did that, his head started to hurt, so he quickly stopped doing so and he stepped onto the platforms. As it flew over, Darius saw that he was nearing a large tower.
Walking into the tower, Darius took out his card and swiped it in front of a door, which swiftly opened and Darius entered the room, he then swiped his card again and two Energy Stones landed at his feet and the room filled with a large amount of energy. Once that happened, Darius started to absorb energy, but as he was absorbing the energy, he took one of the Energy Stones and he felt it stimulate all the energy in his body and he also felt that the rate at which he absorbed energy increased.
After several days, the door to the room opened and Darius walked out. He had used quite a few points, but he was still able to buy most of the things that he would need, but now, he had broken through to Rank 2 Core Expanding. He also had some improvements in his Mental Energy, as he knew that he would be able to cultivate that much faster in the room and since he was part of the Inscription Hall, he knew that he had to improve his Inscriptioner Level.
Although he had yet to reach 2 Stars, he could feel that it wasn’t too far away. He also knew that once he reached 2 Stars, he would be able to properly begin Alchemy and Weapon Synthesising. Although he could start them at 1 Star, he wouldn’t have enough Mental Energy, nor would he have enough control to actually make anything.
Going back to his room, Darius realised that it had been three months since he had entered the Sect. When he entered his room, he saw that there were several things that were under his door. Picking them up, he saw that they were a report of the people in the his year in the Sect. The Heavenly Decree Sect used this, so that they would be able to make a more competitive environment. As he flipped through the report, he saw that there were quite a few people that had become much more powerful since they managed to come to the Sect, but Darius was still sure that he would be able to defeat them and if he couldn’t, he could always use his Talismans, to help him in combat.
But, there were quite a few people who had become more powerful than he would have thought, one of which was Zephyr, who had a significant strength boost from before he came to the Sect, but there was also a friend in the names of people who had become powerful. Alex had become much more powerful, but to what extent, Darius wasn’t sure, but he knew that he would be a good sparring partner.
He also saw that there was three months until a competition. There would be several sections to the competition. There would be an Alchemy Section, Weapon Synthesising Section, Sparring Section, Comprehension Section, Beast Taming Section and overall fighting Section. This disappointed Darius, as there wasn’t a Talisman Section, as he would have had full confidence that he would be able to win that.
Although he knew that he was strong, Darius wasn’t sure if he could win the overall Fighting Section and the Sparring Section. And he was sure that there would have been others that have already started Alchemy and Weapon Synthesising, but Darius hadn’t touched those yet and was waiting for himself to break through to a 2 Star Inscriptioner.
Since he had been at the Sect for three months, he had improved his strength by quite a bit, as he had managed to comprehend the techniques to some degree and now he was able to freely exhibit the movement technique and it didn’t use too much energy, so he was able to use it for long periods of time. He was also able to use the Staff Technique well and Darius felt that he had reached a bottleneck, but he wasn’t sure about how to break through.
Putting the reports away, Darius sat down and started to cultivate his Mental Energy, as he wanted to break through to 2 Stars as fast as possible, so he could practice Alchemy, but he felt that Weapon Synthesising was too strenuous, so he decided that he would focus more on Alchemy, as that would also benefit him more in t
There was only 5 days until the competition started and all of the first-year disciples were trying to improve their strength as fast as possible. Some of them were fighting Beasts in the wild, some of them were trying to tame Beasts while others were simply cultivating. But, the disciples of the Sect were very interested in the few top disciples of the first-years; Alex, Zephyr, Darius, Charlotte.
If Darius realised that they were talking about Charlotte, he would be surprised, as when he had met her, the first thing she did was pinch his cheeks. Although he did realise that she had a good talent, he didn’t think that she was too strong, but it turns out that she had become quite strong over the past few months. But, the other disciples mostly talked about Zephyr and Alex.
“Master, what do you think has happened with Darius, he hasn’t done anything of note since he entered the Sect!”
“Patience is key and Darius understands that. During the competition, I am sure that he will gain first position in a few of the Sections and the Overall Section, don’t worry.”
While everyone else was discussing the other ‘top’ first-years, Iago was worrying about Darius, but Elder Arrow-Heart knew that Darius was hiding his strength.
Five days passed in a flash. Across the whole Sect, a multitude flooded towards the same point. This point was the Arena. All of the significant competitions occurred here. There was enough space for the competitions, but for convenience, only one Section would occur at once, so that everyone could participate in everything.
There was a continuous stream of disciples entering the Arena and most of them were not first-years, but ones from the older years, so they would be able to scout some of the disciples and try to make them enter their Faction. Most of the disciples had to pay a certain amount of Treasure Points to enter the Arena, but this cost was waived if they were a first-year, as they were competing, or if the person was extremely strong or influential.
But, the Treasure Point cost to enter the Arena wasn’t too expensive, so it didn’t stop a few thousand people from coming and watching. This was quite shocking, as most of the disciples of the Sect were cultivating by themselves, so these few thousand disciples were the ones that were at the pinnacle of the Sect or the ones that were recruiting disciples. But, how can a few thousand people sit at the pinnacle? There were around a thousand normal Elders and a few hundred high ranking ones and each of the higher ranking Elders would take several disciples and these disciples would only be the strongest of the strong, but since most of these disciples were out of the Sect on missions or training the whole time, they were all at the pinnacle of the Sect, but they all came back to watch the first year’s competition each year, so that they would be able to scout some talents for their Master’s.
From dawn to halfway through the day, people continued to stream through the gates of the Arena until there was a bit over 200,000 people in the Arena! 200,000 disciples! Although the first few thousand disciples would have been the elites, the rest were mostly regular disciples that had time to waste.
As the rest of the disciples were in the seating area around the Arena, the first years were beneath the Arena preparing for their various Sections. First of all there would be the Alchemy Section. This caused quite a few of the first year’s to be disappointed, as they didn’t dare to waste any time thinking about anything other than Spirit Cultivation, as they thought that Mental Cultivation and any other type of cultivation was a waste of time.
But, there were the Inscriptioners who were delighted, as they would be able to show their strengths first and become the bright stars before anyone else, which could give them some fame. Cultivating, the Inscriptioners wanted to be at their peak condition before the Alchemy Section began.
Just as the sun was slightly more than halfway across the sky, the internal gates to the Arena opened and the first year Inscriptioners walked out in an organized fashion and sat down in front of an Alchemy Furnace that was prepared for them.
“This is the Alchemy Section! There will be seven rounds. After the first round, only fifty people will remain. After the second round, there will only be twenty-five people left, the 25 that were eliminated will each get 200 Treasure Points and a 10-Star Energy Stone. After the third round, only 15 will remain, the ten that were eliminated will get 400 Treasure Points and two 10-Star Energy Stones. After the fourth round, there will be 10 people left, the five that were eliminated will get 600 Treasure Points and 3 10-Star Energy Stones. After the fifth round, there will be 4 remaining, the six that were eliminated will get 800 Treasure Points and 4 10-Star Energy Stones. After the sixth round, only two people will remain, the two people which were eliminated will get 1000 Treasure Points and 5 10-Star Energy Stones. After the seventh round, there will be one person left. The other person that was eliminated will get 2000 Treasure Points and 10 10-Star Energy Stones, while the person that won will receive the guidance of one of the Supreme Elders of the Inscription Hall for a year and will also get an allowance of 200 more Treasure Points and one 10-Star Energy Stone each month!”
Once all of the first years had sat down, a loud, booming voice could be heard throughout the Arena, which made the blood of all of those participating to boil! The first place reward of guidance for a whole year and 200 Treasure Points plus a 10 Star Energy Stone per month! Even the second place reward was 2000 Treasure Points and 10 10-Star Energy Stones! Although the other rewards weren’t as blood boiling, the chances of getting one of them was only one in ten! Only fifty people were able to get a reward!
But, this didn’t stop them and they were eagerly waiting to be told what to do and when to start. After the initial shock of the rewards had ended, the booming voice rang out again,” This is the first round. Inside your furnaces, there are three different Medicines, the first fifty people to combine all three without fault will pass through. Also, any foul play will incur a penalty of 1000 Treasure Points and a ban from all Sect facilities for the next three months and also from this competition. You can all start now!”
After the booming voice said that there were three Medicines in the furnace, all of the disciples tried to start refining them, but they found that there was something blocking them from using Mental Energy, but they were able to see that there were three Medicines inside the furnace, but they weren’t able to see anything else about that. Also after the voice stated the consequences of cheating or foul play, anyone with thoughts about doing so instantly got rid of it in their mind and when the voice told them to start, all of the disciples realised that the thing blocking their Mental Energy disappeared and they all started to refine the Medicines.
While the first years were refining the Medicines, the audience was placing bets on who they thought would win, who they thought would get eliminated or some other category similar to those. This betting system was put into place by the Sect, so they could only bet Treasure Points, but other people placed bets within themselves. But, the total amount of bets placed was phenomenal! Around 200,000 people placing bets would ensure that a lot of Treasure Points or Energy Stones were used.
This betting caused the atmosphere in the stands to become quite tense, but in the Arena itself, the competitors were completely focused on their task and after a few minutes someone made a mistake and their furnace exploded. Under the supervision of one of the Elders, the person left the arena, dispirited, but it seemed that the explosion caused a few people to lose their focus and their furnace’s also blew up, which caused some people in the crowd to become dispirited, as they had placed their bets on them, as they were friends, or they somehow knew each other, or by complete chance, so they had lost some Treasure Points or Energy Stones.
Although some people had failed, the rest of them stayed focused on the task and soon enough, someone managed to finish refining the Medicines, but they still had to combine the Energies inside the furnace, but that speed still shocked the Elders overseeing the competition, as they were able to see into the furnaces with ease. But, as this person tried to combine the Energies, he found that there were some problems with them, as he had been too hasty while refining them and it ended with a failure and an explosion.
Slowly more of them were eliminated, until, after ten minutes, someone managed to succeed! After only 10 minutes, someone managed to succeed! This speed was insanely fast, as when the Elders picked out these Medicines, they made sure that the only way to combine them was to almost perfectly refine them before combining them and even then it required tedious operations. Although the Elders would be able to complete this with their hands tied behind their back, didn’t mean that it wasn’t hard, as the Elders were all above 6 or 7 Stars!
But, some of the people there had already given up, but they were simply refining the Medicines as slowly as possible hoping that they would end up in the last fifty. Although this was smart, other people were finishing and after fifteen more minutes, there was only 25 spots left! Although some people had been eliminated, there were still over 300 people remaining, so it was a 1 in 12 chance of getting in now!
Suddenly, ten more people finished in the space of one minute and five more finished in another minute, leaving only ten spaces! Ten, but now people seemed to be finishing left, right and centre. Not even a minute later, there were only three spaces left, but it seemed that there were ten people that were about to finish and they all seemed to be at the same stage.
One of these people tried to hurry along and get there first, but slipped up and blew the furnace up. Another one pushed himself a bit faster and managed to finish first. There were only two places left and there were still eight others that felt that they could finish extremely soon. Bang! Bang! Two furnaces blew up and six people were left and one more person finished.
Five people competing for one spot. In desperation, one of the competitors tried to use some of their Mental Energy to disrupt the other’s processes, but they were found out immediately and were literally throw out of the Arena. It was a glorious scene. The person flying up over the walls of the Arena with their furnace exploding behind them, but the landing wasn’t so glorious and it seemed that they would have to pay 1000 Treasure Points and they also wouldn’t be able to use any Sect facilities for the next three months, which basically doomed them, as they would fall far behind everyone else.
But, there were still five other going for that one spot. They were all in the last processes of combining the Energies, but when they were about to finish, the booming voice startled them,” Everyone that hasn’t managed to combine the Medicines has been eliminated! Elders bring the 50 that managed to pass over to the second round.”
“What! Who was it that finished?! It wasn’t any of those five, so who could it be?” Almost everyone in the stands were watching those five who were competing for the last spot, but when the voice announced that 50 people had finished, they were all shocked and they wanted to see who it was that managed to burst forwards and exceed the others.
Because there was a total of ten people that were close to finishing, everyone paid attention to them, as everyone else was quite far behind, so it must have meant that the other person was waiting for the last possible moment for him to burst forward and finish the whole process, which must mean that there were extremely talented, as they were able to complete it so fast.
Beneath the Arena, there was a screen formed from Energy that allowed them to watch what was happening in the Arena. Alex sat there, watching the screen and he noticed that Darius had gone out before to compete in this part of the competition and the whole time he was trying to see if he had succeeded, but when the booming voice told them it was all over, Darius still hadn’t finished. This made Alex sigh, but, as he continued to watch, everyone that had managed to finish in time was brought up using Energy and from the corner of his eye, he noticed that Darius was brought with them, which made him wonder, when did he finish? Could he be the one that finished last, the one which was extremely good at Alchemy, well at least that was according to what the others said?!
In his mind, Alex had already placed Darius as someone who he should aspire to beat or to become more like, but this incident placed him even higher in his heart, as someone who was truly legendary.
After they had all been lifted up by the Elders, the remaining fifty were placed down in a different place in the Arena and the people that were eliminated filed out. In this area, there were three identical furnaces. This confused most of the people participating, as there were 50 of them and only 3 furnaces.
“This is the second round. In this round, everyone is to try to control the furnaces. The first 25 that succeed will go through to the next round. Everyone is to start at the first furnace, once you have managed to wrest control of this furnace, you will get to move onto the second furnace and once you have done so with that one, you will have to control the third furnace. At the first furnace, everyone will be trying at once and anyone that manages to get to the second furnace can try to gain control of this one as well, but it is first come first serve at the third furnace. The same rules also apply for foul play, except that you will not be able to get any rewards for making it into the top fifty. Now, you can all start.”
Since they were all dropped into the area haphazardly, they all had to run towards the furnace as they tried to control it. They sent their Mental Energy into the furnace and they found that there was a flame inside it, which they assumed they had to control. The first person that managed to get their Mental Energy inside the flame was quite happy with themselves, but soon enough their Mental Energy was blasted out by a few other people’s.
This caused them to have to make some more Mental Energy enter the furnace again, but the people that blasted him out were fighting over the flame with their Mental Energy. Although this took some time to describe, all of this happened in less than a second, so there wasn’t enough time for the other people’s Energy to enter the furnace as they were further away, but soon enough, there were fifty different people’s Energies inside the furnace.
Even if there was a 4 Star Inscriptioner, they wouldn’t stand a chance against 50 1 and 2 Star Energies, let alone the people which were about to gain control of the furnace. Because of this, no-one had yet to gain an advantage and no-one dared to bribe to try any other underhand methods, as it was quite obviously foul play, which the consequences of were disastrous to them.
But, after a few minutes, one of the people found that they had ran out of Mental Energy. He was at the peak of 1 Star, but he had yet to break through to 2 Stars and he was one of the last people to pass the first round, so he had already used quite a bit of Mental Energy and being blasted out and using more Mental Energy resulted in him not having any left and he had to cultivate to get the Mental Energy back.
Soon after a few more people had to back out as well, as they were out of Mental Energy as well. They also had one thing in common, they were all 1 Star Inscriptioners. Now, only the 2 Star Inscriptioners were left in the fight to control of the furnace, but they were still at a stalemate. Whenever someone tried to control the flame, the rest of them worked together to get them out, so each party was just waiting, but nothing was happening. Despite this, the atmosphere was incredibly tense.
Because of this, someone finally snapped, but they didn’t rush towards the flame, but started to attack the others with their Mental Energy. Although they didn’t stand a chance against the other Energies, it caused quite a bit of chaos, which allowed some people to start fighting over the flame. But, since there was one person who was fighting against quite a few other’s Mental Energies, the people fighting over the flame basically had it all to themselves.
But, one of the people fighting that one person’s Mental Energy suddenly headed towards the flame and also joined in the fight, but this person was far too strong for the few people contesting over the flame and kept them all out while they managed to gain control over the flame, which caused all other Mental Energies to get kicked out of the furnace and the person also exited the furnace and walked over the other furnaces and started to go through the process of trying to control those as well, but no-one paid him any heed, as they didn’t want that success to dishearten them.
But, this one person’s success made them realise that it was possible and quite a few of them rushed at the flame at once, which meant that there weren’t enough people to blast them out, causing more people to rush in and soon enough, everyone was fighting over the flame, but each person was fighting against someone else and there was no sense of peace, or balance that was there earlier.
Because of this, another person managed to control the flame and they also moved onto the second furnace. Because of the chaos, a few more people managed to go through to the second furnace. But, once those people managed to succeed, quite a few of the 1 Stars managed to recover enough and barged back into the furnace, causing everything to level out again.
But, the situation at the second furnace was very different. Although all the furnaces looked the same from the outside, they were extremely different from the inside. The first furnace had one flame, but this one had fifty flames. To be able to control the furnace, you one person would have to control a majority of the flames.
For example, if someone was controlling 26 flames while someone else was controlling 24, the person with twenty-five wouldn’t be able to control the furnace. Although they were controlling more than half, the other person had too much of a share of the flames, whereas if someone was controlling 25 flames, while three people split the rest of the flames, the person with 25 would be able to control the furnace.
Since there were fifty flames, it was designed for fifty people to participate in. But, since there were only ten people there currently, each person had a few flames. Although this stage seems to be easier than the first stage, it was much harder, as controlling more flames made it harder to control them, as your concentration was split between multiple flames, which also meant that if someone attacked you and tried to control you flames, it would be much easier for them if they had less flames.
Because of this, controlling a majority of the flames would be extremely hard, because if someone noticed that you were gaining lots of flames, they would be able to slowly reclaim some flames and since there would be multiple people doing so, you might be left with none in a matter of seconds.
With ten people trying to take more flames from each other, everyone was constantly losing some flames, but also gaining some back at the same time! There was complete chaos, but there was order to the chaos. But, some people were weaker than others, so they were unable to keep up with the rate at which their flames were being taken, causing some people to only have one flame and completely focus on that and bide their time, until they were able to strike back.
For a while, there was a sort of balance, until someone from the first furnace came up. When this person came, everything was disrupted and some of the people which had quite a few flames suddenly had none, while others that had one or two suddenly acquired almost half of the flames, but then everyone attacked them and they suddenly had none again. Easy come, easy go.
But, no-one had yet to control the furnace, which was a testament to its difficulty. But, painstakingly slowly, one person was able to slowly control the battlefield. But, the only reason why this was possible is because of talent, skill, luck and excellent timing. This was quite exceptional, as no-one was making any mistakes, but rather, this person was far too good and was able to ‘steal’ flames here and there and whenever you attacked him, he was far too crafty for you to be able to gain any flames and you might end up losing some!
Even against an attack from all sides, he was still able to hold his ground! This meant that not too much time had passed until he had managed to control a majority and moved on. With this person moving on, everyone was kicked out of the furnace and that meant that all the flames were unoccupied! When their Energies entered the furnace, there was a frenzy. Everyone was trying to get as many flames as possible, which meant that everyone was going all out on attacking and almost nothing for defence, so it caused some of the weaker ones to completely lose all of their flames!
In all of this chaos, two people managed to dominate the flames, constantly wavering around the 20 mark, but never enough to suppress the other. Slowly, the atmosphere became much less tense, as people became used to the happenings. Meanwhile, the person that had managed to get to the third furnace was having quite a bit of trouble controlling this furnace.
This furnace, like the first one only had one flame, but this one flame wasn’t simple to control. If you tried to control it, it would burn your Mental Energy. Although this doesn’t sound too bad, it was incredibly painful and could possibly be deadly. This was why the Sect only allowed one person to challenge it at a time, so that there were no serious injuries.
Since Mental Energy was stored inside your brain, it had a very close relation to your brain, which was why any damage to your Mental Energy itself could cause serious brain damage, but actually damaging Mental Energy was incredibly hard, but in a case like this, where the Mental Energy was vulnerable made it easy to damage it. Although their Mental Energies were being bashed by each other and destroyed, the Energy wasn’t actually damaged.
After around an hour, the person managed to succeed, but they immediately collapsed once they had done so. But, by that time, another person had managed to control the second furnace, so they went ahead and tried. While they tried, the first person was carried off and the support staff tried to bring him back as fast as possible, as they couldn’t know when this round was going to end.
The person that went up after the first person was finding it incredibly difficult to continue trying to control the furnace, but after fifteen minutes, they failed, but there was no person after them that was able to contend for the spot, so everyone went back to watching the second furnace. Roughly an hour later, another person came and tried to control the furnace and they also succeed, but this person didn’t collapse, but he was clearly drained.
After this person succeeded, one person managed to pass through almost every half hour, so it took another 16 hours before all 25 were chosen. This was because a few people failed, so it made the process longer. 16 hours straight was quite taxing on the contestants Mental Energy and they had to stop quite a few times, so that they would be able to recover their Mental Energy and some of the 1 Star Inscriptioners found that they were on the verge of becoming 2 Stars! Even some of the 2 Stars felt the improvements.
But, the 2nd round came to a close after around 17 hours. Now was the time for the third round.
After the 25 had passed, nothing happened for half an hour, but after that, the booming voice started up again,”Everyone that passed will now go into the 3rd round. In this round, we will be testing how well you can judge Medicines. We will be testing how well you can describe and find the uses of a few Medicines. It will be a classic test, with a time limit of two hours. Your test starts now!”
Once the voice said that the test started, a few Medicines appeared before each contestant and so did a few pieces of jade. Once they found one characteristic of the Medicine, they would have to write it down on the corresponding jade, using their Mental Energy.
For the first few minutes, each person was furiously listing all of the characteristics, as they could simply describe the Medicines. But, after they had written down all of the physical properties, they realised that these Medicines could be used in certain pills, but because of the type of Energy that it would turn into made it so that it couldn’t be used in some pills.
This stumped a few of them, as they were used to being told what Medicines do what and how they work, but in this test they had to figure it out themselves. This was more of a test of knowledge, experience and theorizing than simply judging the Medicines. But, since some people had a vast experience with Medicines, they were able to identify one or two of the Medicines, so they would obviously have many more characteristics and uses.
Some others had a wide experience of Medicines and they would be able to determine what uses it had by the shape or other physical properties, but only people that had studied hundreds of Medicines would be able to do this. Since they had only been in the Sect for a few months, it was almost impossible for them to have managed to determine this, but considering how some people managed to gain countless Medicines from the competition before they entered the Sect, there might be one or two who had bothered to study them all.
At first, they were all writing everything down as fast as they could, but now a few people were sitting there, as if they had given up and were staring into space and the audience wasn’t sure if they were trying to think of something, or if they had completely given up. But, there were still some that were writing at a constant pace. Although it wasn’t as fast as when they had first started, it was still a constant stream of words.
There were even some people that were thinking of trying to look at others to see what they were writing, but that was obviously cheating and they didn’t want to be punished so severely. After half an hour, each word that was written down seemed to be laborious and pained, as it seemed that they were all theorizing uses of the Medicines.
The Elders that were supervising the test wondered how these kids would do. There was almost infinite marks they could get through theorizing, but the other parts could total up to 300 marks. There was a total of 100 marks for the physical properties, another 100 marks for the uses and another 100 marks for the names of the Medicines. Then, there were countless marks that could be achieved through theorizing.
Although uses sounds similar, it is quite different. The uses could be from healing a wound to a certain pill that is known to the world, but when they are theorizing, they would theorize that you could combine the Energy in one Medicine with another to make an Energy that could something like making an antidote.
Alchemy wasn’t only about making pills and the like, but it was about finding new ways of using certain Energies, science if you will. It was also like science, you must learn the basics and what we have already discovered before you are able to find out how to use different things in ways which no-one could imagine.
Meanwhile, the audience was also wondering how the first years would do and the ones which had participated in this round previous years remembered how painful it was and could empathise with them. Some of the audience was discussing the different uses of the Medicines while others that were completely ignorant of Medicines simply listened, but understood nothing.
When only half an hour was left, most of the contestants had stopped writing and were staring blankly at the Medicines, trying to see something that they missed before. But, it was to no avail and half an hour later, the jades in front of them suddenly flew up and disappeared. After they disappeared, the competitors had to wait anxiously for the results to come. After another half hour, the results came back, but not in the way they expected.
Some of them were suddenly lifted up, while others stayed on the ground, but no-one knew if the people that were lifted up had passed, or if it was those that were still on the ground. But, after a few tense seconds, their thoughts were cleared up,” It seems that these kids have some ability, those that are on the floor have passed, get ready for the next round.”
The fifteen people that were on the ground let out a sigh of relief and since they didn’t use much Mental Energy, they simply cultivated to get to their peak condition. After a few minutes, the fourth round started.
“Well done to the fifteen of you for coming so far, but five of you will not be able to advance any more. We will decide who those five are based on your patience. Being an Alchemist takes a lot of patience. You will simply have to be more patient that the others.”
Once the voice said this, the scenery around them suddenly changed and it looked like they were in hell! Patience, no, this was endurance! There were flames everywhere and it was covering all of the contestants, causing many to cry out in pain!
No wonder the voice started by congratulating them! When the flames started up, it startled everyone, but after a few seconds, they realised that it wasn’t too harsh and they could still manage it. But, this was not the case after ten minutes.
The temperature had continuously increased, but it wasn’t a slow increase, but it was rapid and some of them were feeling faint, but they held on nonetheless. Although they held on, it was only five more minutes before someone bailed. When this person came out, he realised that the whole thing was just an illusion, so there would be no harm to one’s body! If this person had known that beforehand, he would have stayed in there for much longer, as then he wouldn’t have to worry about being injured.
As the temperature in the Arena was rising, the first years below the Arena were shivering. Just watching this was too horrific! If all the Sections were like this, then how much suffering would they have to go through?! This made them all scared and they could only pray that they don’t have to face similar circumstances, it was basically being thrown into hell!
Since the heat was constantly going up, they had no chance to adjust, even Darius wasn’t able to with his Imperial Aura! But, the heat still kept rising and it became too much for one person to handle, so they fainted, but once they fainted, they disappeared from the contestants, which meant that they had been brought outside of the formation.
This meant that only three people needed to be eliminated for them to move on to the next round. Not long after, another person resigned and that meant that there was only two people that needed to be eliminated now! Minutes ticked by painfully, but nothing happened. But, everyone was having similar thoughts, curse the people that came up with this test, it was torture!
Since it was an illusion, they only felt the heat, but they weren’t affected by the flames. It seemed like an eternity had passed for the people inside the Arena, but someone finally couldn’t stand it anymore and only one more person had to be eliminated for them to move on. Time slowly passed and the heat of the flames increased as well, making all of the contestants suffer.
But, one person finally fell under the pressure and that round was over, much to the contestants relief.
“Very good, all of you here have some patience after all.”
Patience, is something wrong with you?! This is what all of the contestants thought as the voice said this.
“It is now time for the 5th round. This round will be testing how well you can control your Mental Energy. You will be required to pass your Mental Energy through several different mazes, but your Mental Energy is not allowed to touch any of the walls. Also, in this round, you can interrupt others Mental Energy as much as you like and it will not be considered foul play.”
Once the voice had told them the descriptions of the test, they all thought that it would be a breeze, but they were a bit confused as to why the voice said that they were allowed to mess with each others’ Mental Energy.
After a minute, several contraptions brought down a small tile which looked normal, but as it came closer to them, they saw that there were countless engravings in it, but they weren’t staying still and were constantly moving around, or at least it looked like that was so.
As soon as they saw this, the ten of them realised that this would be much harder to complete than they thought.
“The last six people to complete this maze will be eliminated!”
Once it was told to them that the last six people would be eliminated, they all frantically entered the maze, but they all entered at the same point, since there was only one entrance and exit. Because of this, they were all pressing against each other with their Mental Energy and it cause some of those who were on the outside to be hit into the walls.
When they hit the walls, they didn’t come back in immediately, as it seemed that there was something stopping them, a bit like a respawn timer. But, after half a minute, they were able to enter the maze again, but in that half minute, the rest of the contestants had adventured quite far, while some of the others had been pushed into the walls and had ended up being taken out as well, but when they were looking at the grand scheme of things, they were far from having any progress towards reaching the end of the maze.
Since they didn’t want to be knocked into the walls and sent out for half a minute, they sent their Mental Energy down different tracks, so that they could continue peacefully, but the ones which had been knocked out couldn’t know who went where, so they could only hope that they picked a free path.
Most of them controlled one bit of Mental Energy and sent it down the maze, but some others were smarter and whenever they came to a crossroad, they split their Mental Energy and whenever they came to a dead end, they would bring it back, but by doing so, they increased their chance of meeting someone else, which might end up with them being knocked out for half a minute.
It was a bit like a rat race, they were like rats in a maze, trying to find the way out, but only four of them would be able to pass. As each person tried to find the way out, they came to understand the maze, at least somewhat. Every ten seconds, the inscriptions would change, but it wouldn’t be a drastic change and there was a cycle that it could go through. The cycle would be completed once every ten minutes, but that was only for one of the inscriptions, so that meant that it could take hundreds of minutes to get through a dozen of the inscriptions on the correct path.
But, no-one was willing to wait that long, so most of them sent a bit of their Mental Energy through the inscription and waited for it to change and so on until all of their Mental Energy had gone through and so that they had scouted all possible routes to take, but the people only did this when they figured out the cycles for the inscriptions.
Although they tried to avoid each other, meeting was inevitable, especially since most of them were trying to brute force it and go through every possible route, so some people ended up being kicked out and forced to start all over again, which was quite troublesome, but at least they knew which paths held dead ends before they started again.
The fifth round progressed slowly and there wasn’t much for the audience to do besides watch. It would have been impossible for them to watch normally, but the Sect was prepared and had a screen which would let them watch all the competitors at once and it also showed the correct route to the end and it showed the name of the person that was closest to the correct route.
There was one person that was ahead by a large amount, but that was only a few of their strands of Mental Energy, while the others lagged behind and were close to many other strands from the other competitors, so that person might be knocked out for half a minute. But, there was another person who was a bit behind the person that was first and a bit ahead of everyone else, so it the person that was coming first managed to get eliminated, it would be to his benefit.
After half an hour, it looked like the contestants had made some progress. Although it looked like they had a mammoth task ahead of them, it was progress nonetheless. But, only the audience knew how far they had gone, which was lucky, as if the contestants knew how far they had gone in comparison to how far they have to go, they would simply give up.
Although they could see the tile in which the inscriptions were and they could see some inscriptions, they were unable to make anything out of it, let alone see how much further they have to reach the end. The only way that they could inspect the tile was through the Mental Energy inside the tile.
After an hour of tireless searching, someone had a massive spurt of speed and far surpassed the other competitors and once the spurt finished, they still continued on at a speed which was almost double that of the other competitors. Even after another half an hour, this person didn’t slow down and was able to fly ahead of the others.
Three hours later, that same person managed to finish the maze and it was in record breaking time as well! A;though taking more than three hours sounds like a long time, it was actually extremely short and the Elders knew that they had to give the person something of significance.
Although one person managed to finish, the rest of the contestants were struggling by themselves, wondering how long it would take for them to finish. Whereas, that one person that finished sat back and laughed when he saw how simple it was to finish the maze. Although he had managed to finish the maze, he couldn’t be one-hundred percent sure about which path was the one which could allow one to exit the maze, but the simplicity of it was amazing.
Theoretically, it would take them all the same amount of time to complete the maze, since they all had to wait for the inscriptions to change, but if you could control your Mental Energy to a higher degree, you would be able to make it go faster, just like how if you could control your body better, you would be able to run faster.
Their Mental Energy snaked its way towards the end, sweeping past every path. But, some people had to abandon some paths, as they met with someone else as they were waiting for the inscription to change, so they had to rush and caused them to miss a few of the paths.
But, this meant that one of the contestants was forced to miss the correct path, so everyone that was watching gave up on him and didn’t bother with him and watched the rest of the contestants, trying to determine who will get through and who will fail.
Five hours later, another person finished, leaving only two spots and ten minutes after that, someone else finished, which only left one spot! The other seven contestants were neck and neck with each other, so it was impossible to tell who was going to win. But, some observant people realised that the one who had managed to shock them all and suddenly finish in the first round was not among them!
Although they were neck and neck, only two of them came into contact with each other, as the rest were slightly ahead or slightly behind the others in some of the Mental Energy strands, but in regards to the correct route, the person who was first would constantly change between the multiple people.
Since they didn’t come into contact with each other, whenever someone took the lead, they simply ‘jumped’ over the other person and continued on at a greater speed than them, so that they were able to obtain a lead. This was possible since there were only walls on the sides and not above them, so they were able to go above them, but if they went too high up, they would go outside of the maze, but it would be incredibly hard for them to do that, since there was an invisible wall, which was more like pressurized air, this meant that they could touch it and not be bothered by it.
The person who was coming first was changing constantly, making it hard to say that one person was going to win for sure, but as they continued on, one of the contestants fell behind the others and was left far behind, due to the fact that they couldn’t keep up.
This continued to happen, until there was only three people contesting for that one last spot. They constantly overtook each other and constantly tried to knock each other out, but they found that they weren’t able to do so, so they could only concentrate on trying to be faster than the others and more cunning than the others.
Since they were in a maze, they were not sure how much further they had to go before they would be able to get out, so they were going as fast as they could for as long as they could, because the exit could be right around the corner.
But, the exit was right around the corner! Once they passed one inscription, the exit was right there, they all rushed towards it and abandoned all their other strands of Mental Energy. But, because of this, one of them was knocked out, as someone else had bumped them into a wall! The other two continued to rush forwards and constantly tried to smash the other into a wall, but suddenly, they saw a light flash past them towards the exit and could only gape as it went through the exit, securing the last spot!
This left the crowd speechless, as this was extremely similar to the first round! Coming out of nowhere and managing to finish! Some people also noticed that they were the same person. Several people who had betted on the two that were fighting for that spot felt abused, as they thought they were so close to winning their bet, but someone came out of nowhere and wrecked their dreams.
This incident cause the Alchemy Section to be one of the most outstanding ones for the past fifteen years, also adding on to the fact that someone managed to break the record for the fastest time set!
As he sent waves through the whole school, Darius sat there, pondering what the last few rounds would be. He assumed that one of the rounds would be a open creation round, where they could create anything, as long as they used Alchemy to make it and that the Sect had the material to create it. In regards to this, Darius had very little hope, as he only knew how to make a few pill and he couldn’t come up with some pill recipe on the spot.
But, as to what the other round would be, he tried to think about what made an Alchemist, but it seems that most of the attributes had already been covered and there wasn’t much more that they could do. Darius knew that they had focused on Pills for the whole time, but Alchemy wasn’t simply the art of creating pills, but also many other things like poisons and hallucinogens.
He realised that the other round would probably have something to do with the other paths of Alchemy. As he sat there waiting and recovering his Mental Energy, Darius felt satisfied at how he had managed to slip through without anyone noticing. If he had gone up and tried to go as fast as he could from the start, he would have been able to come first and by far, but since he didn’t want to attract too much attention to himself, he decided that he would rush in at the last moment and make it through.
Although it seemed that this had the inverse, no-one knew who the person that had managed to get through at the last moment was. Although they all saw him get through, they didn’t know his name, nor what he looked like, they only knew his Mental Energy. This made him happy with himself. Although some of the Elders would have been able to catch his name, they would be able to sense his Mental Energy anyway and they would be able to tell who he was, but he was more worried about the disciples finding out who he was, as he didn’t want to become a miniature celebrity right now, as they would attract the envy and hate of a lot of people.
Laying low was a good idea when he had no backing and since he was new to the Sect and didn’t know all of the powers, who to look out for, who not to offend, who is this person’s brother and all of the other important things he needed to know. Although he really wanted to win the competition, he knew that it wouldn’t be in his best interest to win, so he could only sigh and hope that he would be able to win in the next competition.
Soon after, the same booming voice rang out again,” There seems to be some talent among these first-years, someone breaks a record and someone else is hiding their strength, this is starting to get interesting. But, now it is time for the sixth round. The four of you are going to be given a book of all of the poisons with a known cure. We will give you several pills and you each have to chose one. Using that book, you have to identify your own conditions and find which poison you have consumed, after which you will have to create the antidote for the poison, if you are unable to make the antidote, you will have to be prepared to face the consequences. But, if anyone is in danger of dying, we will save you, but otherwise, you are on your own. The first two people that cure their poison can go through to the next round. Good luck.”
Several pills then appeared in front of them and so did a book, they all poured over the book at first, but when they realised how thick it was, they knew that it would be impossible to discover the poisons in time before they fell subject to its poison. There were at least a few thousand poisons in the book and each poison took up at least ten pages and they weren’t small pages, but it seemed that each page was a scroll. If they were able to identify what poison they were affected by, it would be a miracle!
Grudgingly, they all took one pill, at random, as they all looked the same, so there was no way to tell what poison was in each pill. They all ingested the pill at the same time and as soon as the pills entered their mouths, quite a few Medicines also appeared in front of them, as well as a furnace, but curing poisons didn’t only mean making a pill which could cure it, it could mean that you would have to use a certain Medicine and absorb Energy from it or something similar, so that was why only one furnace appeared.
Once they ate the pills, they sat down and inspected their bodily conditions. One of them immediately noticed some changes, but the others didn’t notice anything yet and tried to stimulate it as much as possible, so that they would be able to find some symptoms and so that
they would be able to cure it as fast as possible.
Once any symptoms appeared, they instantly went over to the book and started to read through it. It might seem troublesome that four people were reading it at the same time, but they were able to use their Mental Energy and didn’t have to actually do anything else to read it, so they were able to skim over the one which didn’t have their symptoms.
Darius’ Mind’s Eye flew over the pages of the book at seemingly light speed, but he felt that he still wasn’t going fast enough. He had kept his eye on a few pages, which contained the poisons which had similar symptoms to his current condition and slowly eliminated them when he gained a symptom which wasn’t congruent with the poison.
Minutes passed and the symptoms of the contestants were becoming more obvious, enough so that the audience could see the symptoms. One person had sweat streaming down their face, another’s skin was flaking off, while Darius feeling his energy rise up inside him with no way for him to control it.
This made the poison easier to identify, but this condition was extremely deadly, if not treated, it could cause death to people with weaker organs, which Darius was sadly, since his heart had been patched up, but it could never be as good as it was before, making him seriously worried, as the voice had said that they would help people who were in danger of dying, but they wouldn’t know he was in danger of dying until he was close to dying.
But, since the symptoms were very definite, the poison was easier to identify and soon after, Darius had managed to find what poison it was, but the book didn’t say what it could be cured by, but it described some of its properties, so Darius had to go off that and try to make a cure. Grabbing a few Medicines that had opposing properties when compared to the poison, Darius pondered how he could cure his ailment.
By simply refining them and combining all of the Energies, he was doomed to fail, as it would be almost impossible for him to combine the Energies, given that they were random Medicines that had the correct properties. Although he would have been able to find some Medicines which could have been combined, he didn’t have the time, so Darius tired to think about how he could cure himself.
At first, he thought through all the conventional means of curing the poison, but after a while, he knew that they wouldn’t work and the only ones which could have worked would take far too long. So, he could only rack his brains to try to find a different way to cure the poison.
After a while, he came to the conclusion that using Inscriptions was the correct method to go about doing this. At first, he wondered how he could use this Medicines to cure the poison, but after some time, Darius noticed that this was the completely wrong train of thought. He put all of his Medicines back and started to think about what Medicines he could use and how he would use them.
All of this happened whilst Darius’ Energy was in turmoil and there was an extreme pain coming from his Dantian. This was a problem, if something happened to his Dantian, he would become a cripple and it would be impossible for him to cultivate again.
Faced with this crisis, Darius came up with an idea. If he used a Medicine whose Energy had the effect of soothing or suppressing and used the inscription for integrate, he might be able to control his Energy again.
Searching the pile of Medicines, he found one quite fast and set to work. Having his full focus on the leaf in front of him, Darius started to inscribe, which caught the attention of quite a few people, since he wasn’t using Alchemy, which divided the Elders. Some nodded in satisfaction, while others shook their head in displeasure.
As they were doing this, some of the Elders inspected Darius, which made them discover his slightly weaker heart, making them realise that this could be deadly to him, but since he wasn’t in imminent danger, they didn’t act. As he was inscribing, Darius felt an unbearable pain coming from some of his Meridians, causing his hand to slip, making the Talisman a fail.
Throwing it away, he started another one, making sure to keep a steady hand, especially when there was a spike of pain. Just as he was about to draw the last line, the pain caused him to hesitate momentarily, although that didn’t make the Talisman fail, it made it much more inefficient. But, it was good enough for now.
Slapping the Talisman just below his navel, Darius tried to calm his Energy down and also used his Imperial Aura to rein it in, but covertly and also using a method in the Spirit Cultivation Manual, so no-one else noticed. As he was trying to control his Energy, Darius realised how useful the Spirit Cultivation Manual was, as it was a great help. Just when he thought he was going to lose control of his Energy, he used some of the methods in the manual and then he found that he was on top of the situation.
It was like trying to control an out of control car, which was drifting all over the place and suddenly, the tires had traction and you are able to drive straight again, but you find that you are on the oncoming lane, with several cars coming at you, not being able to stop, so you are forced to steer off and then you are out of control again, but then suddenly the tires have traction and the cycle continues until you manage to get back onto your side of the road.
It took him several minutes, but after that, he was able to understand the way the poison worked and was able to put extra effort just before it was about to go out of control again and was finally able to bring his Energy under control, but he hadn’t cured the poison yet, the Energy was just a symptom. The Energy going out of control was simply one symptom and one of the later symptoms would be damage to the heart, which could be fatal to Darius.
As he was trying to cure the poison, Darius wondered how rotten his luck must be for him to have chosen this poison. The poison was named Central Convergence Star Poison. This was because it caused all of the Energy in the body to rush towards the ‘centre’ of the body, the heart. Since Darius had a Golden Core when he was still a Core Expanding Cultivator, this was even more dangerous, since his Energy was of higher quality and there was much more of it.
If the surging of Energy before was hard to control, it would be impossible for him to control his Energy when it was rushing towards his heart, but he could slow it down and buy time for him to try to make a cure, or for the Elders to heal him. Grabbing those Medicines that he had put down before, Darius started to inscribe other characters on them and when he succeeded, he stuck them on his body immediately.
One of the Talismans made his Meridian contract when too much Energy was being passed through them, so less Energy could pass through the Meridians, making it take longer for the Energy to get to his heart and also making it easier for his heart to handle, as the Energy would come at a slower pace. Of course, this would be quite detrimental if this was permanent, but it would only last as long as the Talisman, so he didn’t need to be worried about that.
But, some of the Talismans were made so that the Energy could act as barriers in his Meridians, which, if not broken would stay there until someone cleaned them out. It would be quite troublesome for Darius top clean out his Meridians, but in exchange for his life and ability to cultivate, it was worth it.
Any normal person would be extremely worried when facing death, but Darius kept his calm and thought logically to expunge the poison from his body. He had come to the conclusion that there would be no way to cure it as such, but it would be easier to get it out of his body. But, to do so, he would have to separate the poison from his blood, but whenever his Energy goes near the poison, it would go out of control, causing quite a bit of trouble, so he could only think of some other way to do so.
He then tried his Mental Energy, which he found that he was able to go close to the poison with his Mental Energy, but now he needed to find a way of separating the poison from his blood. It would be easier to do this with his normal Energy, as it could ‘cut’ through his blood, but the Mental Energy simply parted it, making it hard to actually separate the poison.
Since Mental Energy was easier to control, Darius used that to his advantage and started to separate the poison from his blood and once it was separated, he used a Talisman to draw it up out of his body and the Talisman absorbed the poison. This continued for quite a while, but he had made the most progress out of all the contestants, but it still wasn’t enough and some poison managed to get into his heart, which caused all of his energy to burst out of his Dantian and rush towards his heart.
Since he had already placed some precautions, Darius wasn’t too worried, but he found that his Mental Energy was unable to enter his heart and when he tried with his Energy, the same thing happened, which startled him, as his Energy had entered his heart before when he was patching it up!
Panicking, Darius tried using some of the Talismans he had prepared beforehand, but they didn’t work either. Once he had tried all of that, he felt some Energy start assaulting his heart. Once it started, he immediately entered a coma due to the pain. Compared to when he was receiving the Profound Body Art, this pain was at least ten times worse!
When the Elders saw that Darius had entered a coma, they went over to him and brought him away before treating him. As they were treating him, they also encountered some problems, as it was extremely hard for them to make their Energy enter his heart and once that had done so, they were greeted by an astonishing sight which they could not explain, as they had never seen anything like it before.
When he woke up, Darius found that he was inside his room. There was a person sitting next to him, but he didn’t recognize them and as soon as he woke up, they ran off. A minute later, Iago and another person entered the room.
“This is Elder Lightning-Grove, he is the master of the Young Medicinal God that you met before.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you Elder Lightning-Grove, what can I do for you?”
Meeting this Elder that was the master of someone who had helped him before, Darius couldn’t help but be respectful.
“There is nothing that I can do, as a matter of fact, I have come to say sorry on my disciple’s behalf! When he was operating on you, he was meant to heal your heart completely, but it seems that he didn’t completely heal it, so that is the whole reason why everything happened, which resulted in you being eliminated in the sixth round, but only one other person passed and if it weren’t for the fact that my disciple didn’t do his job properly, you would have been able to pass, so the Elders have decided that they will let you pass through the next round.”
“There is no need for that, I failed because I wasn’t good enough, one of those other people are more worthy. Also, your disciple did nothing wrong, he saved me, so I am grateful and even though this happened, I still hold him in high regard.”
“To say that you are worse than everyone else, you do know that we saw you suddenly burst forwards with speed in the first and fifth rounds, so you are obviously hiding your strength and also your skill in making Talismans. In such a short time, you were able to make such high quality ones as well and your success rate is quite high, there is no way that you are inferior to those other people that were competing! I hope to see you in the Arena tomorrow.”
After Elder Lightning-Grove said that, he walked out of Darius’ room and left Iago and Darius alone.
“Good job in the Alchemy Section, they even postponed the last round to tomorrow just because you were unable to attend. You have really drawn quite a bit of attention your way, even when you were trying to hide your strength.”
“Oh dear, that’s a problem, I guess it is inevitable, but I only wanted to stay low-key for a bit longer, hopefully they won't find my room.”
The two of them talked for a bit before Iago left, saying that Darius needs to cultivate, so he is in peak condition for the last round. Listening to his advice, Darius cultivated his Mental Energy. When he was doing so, he found that his Mental Energy had almost completely recovered. This shocked him, as he had used quite a bit of Mental Energy to make those Talismans and also separate the poison.
While he was cultivating, Darius checked his Meridians and he found that they had been completely cleared! Every trace of what he had done before had been completely washed away and if he inspected them very closely, Darius could tell that they were slightly wider than before.
As he looked at his crystal clear Meridians, Darius wondered if the Elders also noticed the Golden Core in his Dantian. Even if they did notice, Darius wasn’t too concerned, as he had something that was more important to worry about.
Darius knew that there was going to be one round about making Pills themselves, as they had to test that as well, so Darius was thinking of Pills that he could make and he came up with a pitiful list of Pills, but when he considered the rest of the Rounds, he knew that they wouldn’t simply say that they should make a Pill, but there should be some sort of twist to it.
Although he could try to improve how he could make these Pills, there was no point, as even if they did tell them to make these Pills or if they told them to make any Pill they wanted, he knew that there wasn’t enough time to make a noticeable improvement.
After he had managed to get to his peak condition, Darius decided that he would sleep. Since he started to cultivate, he needed very little sleep and Darius realised that he had only slept once or twice since he had entered the Sect! This was not including the times when he was unconscious and when he was in the competition. Although he had been in meditation and cultivation for most of the time, he had barely slept!
As soon as his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep and was so until just before the sun rose. When he woke up, Darius felt refreshed and rejuvenated. He thought to himself,” Turns out that sleeping actually does help,” so from that point onwards, Darius vowed that he would try to sleep at night more often.
But that is beside the point. Darius headed off to the Arena and he saw that there were quite a few people sitting in the stands, but they were nowhere near full. Since he was already in peak condition, Darius wondered how long he would have to wait before the final round could begin. After some time, an Elder lead him out to the Arena.
When he walked into the Arena, Darius was met with cheering and clapping, which surprised him, but considering the events that had happened the previous day, it was quite impressive that he was up and trying to win! Shortly after he entered, Darius opponent also entered. She was also received with a cheer and applause.
“Well done! The two of you have quite a bit of talent and could become great Alchemists if you want to. But, this round you will have to show us your full potential to be able to win. You will be required to make a pill. We will give you the same pill to make and we are sure that neither of you have made or seen this pill being made. During the process of you making the Pill we will judge you and we will also judge the end product. If you fail, we have more than enough Medicines, but failing more than the other person would almost definitely mean elimination. May the best Alchemist win! Start!”
A furnace, some Medicines and a Pill recipe appeared in front of both of them. Pouring over the Pill recipe, they knew that making this Pill would be a momentous effort, maybe even impossible for them. But, they knew that they must try. Taking some of the Medicines, they carefully placed them inside their furnaces before sitting down and trying to refine the Medicines. They managed to succeed without a problem, but then they put another lot of Medicines inside the furnace as well and also refined that.
They managed to succeed that process as well, but for the third time, they both failed. Then they tried again, but the third time seemed to be a wall which they couldn’t cross. One time, Darius managed to get over that wall, but he failed almost immediately on the next lot. This made him wonder how he managed to succeed. He tried to replicate the same process, but he realised that it wasn't the correct way to complete it, so he could only try to see if there was some other way for him to refine the Energies inside the Medicines.
Each way he tried seemed so close, but in the end it failed, so one time, he simply focused on the Medicines he was refining and let the rest of the Energies do whatever and he managed to succeed! Such a unlikely method managed to succeed. He then moved on to the fourth lot of Medicines, which, when using the same method managed to succeed, but when he tried the same thing with the fifth lot, it failed, which meant that he would have to come up with some other method.
He tried again and again and again, but it was to no avail, he could not manage to find the way to complete the fifth lot. As he looked over to his opponent, he saw that they were also having trouble finding the solution. But, he knew that if he took too long, then he would fall behind. Attempt after attempt he failed, but he felt that he was coming closer to finding the correct method.
Half an hour later, Darius managed to figure out how to complete this lot. He was also able to use the same method for the next five lots, so that meant that he was up to the 12th group of Medicines! But, at this group he was forced to find another way of refining the Medicines. This pattern continued until he was up to the 42nd group! It had taken him over five hours to get up to here and he had figured out how to complete the 42nd group.
Once he finished refining the Medicines, it was finally time to combine them all together. To make this Pill, they had to separately refine each Medicine, so that the Energies wouldn’t conflict and they also had to combine each of the Energies one by one, in the correct order so that they wouldn’t conflict and blow up.
It was a very delicate process. With 42 different Energies hanging around, Darius had to carefully maneuver the Energy he wanted over to the other Energy. At first he had to be extremely careful, but once most of the other Energies were combined, he didn’t have to be so careful about the maneuvering of the Energy, but of the combining of it. This was because it became like a scale. Although he could put more weight on one side, he needed to balance it out before the scale fully tipped, so he needed to add the Energy very carefully, so that the scale doesn’t tip.
After he managed to complete this, Darius let out a sigh of relief, as he was extremely worried that he would fail at the last second and nothing is more frustrating than that, but he wasn’t out of trouble yet, as he still had to complete a few more processes before he could actually refine it into a Pill. Now, he needed to split the Energy into four different parts and after he has done that he would need to refine each part at the same time before combining them again and then finally refining it into a pill.
Using his Mental Energy Darius knew that the amount in each quarter had to be exactly the same, so he fully focused on the Energy inside the furnace. Although it seemed easy to cut, the concentration of Energy was simply too high and cutting through it was painstakingly slow and hard to control. It was like cutting through a bone with a blunt knife!
But, he was able to control it and at first he cut the Energy in half and the cut each half in half again. This process took a total of one whole hour! The size of the Energy inside the furnace wasn’t too large, but it was incredibly dense, so that was why it took so long.
After he cut it, Darius separated the Energy and started to refine it. Although he had to refine the Energy at the end to make the pill, this refining was different, it was refining it to make it smaller, more compact so that it would be easier to make into a pill. But, since the Energy was so concentrated, he needed to break it into quarters to be able to achieve this.
If Darius thought that cutting the Energy in quarters was slow, then he was having serious problems with refining it. Just thinking about how slowly it was going made Darius wonder when he would be able to finish. But, he could not afford for his mind to waver, as he needed to pay full attention to the process, as it would fail if he didn’t! It seemed endless, but Darius persevered. He soldiered on no matter what and after three hours of relentless refining, he was half way there.
To him, the end was in sight, but it was like a light at the end of a corridor, so close yet so far. But, it gave him hope and he continued. After another three gruelling hours he managed to refine them all and started to combine them. Luckily for him, this process wasn’t too long and he managed to complete it after a short while.
But, it finally came to the refining of the Pill. When he started, he felt that something was wrong and because of that he braced for an explosion, but no explosion came, so he continued on, but he felt that something was off, something wasn’t completely correct, but he cast it away and refined the Pill.
The refining of all of the Energies was slower than when they were apart, causing Darius to groan internally. Several hours passed, but he hadn’t refined it yet and there still was the feeling that something was wrong. But, as he continued to refine the pill, the feeling didn’t go away, but it became stronger! Although this made him worry, Darius continued to refine the pill, while being extremely cautious, as he didn’t know what was wrong and a single bad step might induce an explosion.
Several minutes later, Darius was close to completely refining the Pill, but he realised something. There was a problem with the refining method. The way they were told to refine the Pill by the recipe was wrong and would end in failure. This made Darius panic, but he kept his composure and tried to find a way to properly refine the Pill.
As he was trying to figure out how to properly refine the Pill, Darius also had to continue refining it, as he couldn’t stop halfway, as that would also cause it to explode. Idea after idea came into his head, but he knew that none of them would work. As the Energy reached a certain density, Darius had reached the critical point, if he didn’t change the method, he would have no hope of refining the Pill.
Using all of his brain power to think up some way to actually refine the Pill, Darius knew he was stumped, so he decided to go with the most out there idea that he had come up with. Attacking the Energy with his Mental Energy! Gathering up all of his Mental Energy, Darius prepared to assault the Energy. As his Mental Energy rushed towards the Energy, Darius braced himself, praying that nothing bad would happen.
As the two Energies collided, there was a loud bang and everything went white.
The Alchemy Section was over and there was a lot of talk about in within the Sect. At first it seemed quite normal, with one person being exceptionally talented and almost no-one knew who he was and this seemed to go on until the last round. The final two were both talented and they both seemed to be neck and neck the whole way through, but there was a difference which was hard to spot, but the Elders and seniors in the Sect noticed it and so did one of the contestants.
And this difference is what also made it interesting. While the seniors noticed it, the rest of the people didn’t and they couldn’t tell why the judges declared that one of them was better than the other, as in their eyes, they both had failed to create the Pill, which should mean that they both were not good enough. But, when the judges told them the reason they were shocked, as this level of difficulty was far too intense, far above what the first-years should ever be able to manage.
Even some of the Elders were shocked when they realised, but they could only sigh in their hearts and think,” The young people truly are the future of the Sect, no the world.” This year’s Alchemy Section was something that only happened once every ten Competitions, so that would be fifty years!
But, this also meant that the winner was one that would only come about every fifty years as well! Because of this, many of the leaders of Factions wanted to recruit the winner and also the runner-up, as who didn’t want Alchemists that would only come about every fifty years? But, none of them were able to meet the two straight after the Section, as they stayed inside the Arena, which meant that they would only come out after the Competition was over, or something happens, which means that they have to go back to their living quarters.
They could only complain to themselves, as they knew how chaotic it would be at the end when everyone was trying to recruit the two, but they would have to bear with it and get there as fast as they could. But, now it was time for the Weapon Synthesising Section. This Section might prove to be eventful, but there was very little chance that something like what happened in the Alchemy Section was very low. But, people were expectant nonetheless.
Darius also watched, but he didn’t understand most of what was happening, since he hadn’t decided to delve into Weapon Synthesising. But, he did understand that some of them were very good. Since his weapon was an Earthen Grade Weapon, Darius figured that they should be creating weapons at the low to mid Stars of the Mortal Grade, but in one of the Rounds, they were told to make a weapon and two of them made a high Star Mortal Grade Weapon. One of them was seven, the other one had eight Stars! This was a very good performance, but it wasn’t as good as Darius and the other girl.
When Darius made his Mental Energy collide with the Energy in the furnace, it caused an explosions, but just before it exploded, the Pill was actually refined! Although it was only in one piece for a split second, the Elders noticed this, but no-one else did expect for Darius, so they thought that it would be a tie, but some of the seniors noticed that there was a problem with the recipe and they also noticed that Darius was trying to find a way to make the recipe correct, which he partly did.
Because of this, they all wanted Darius to join their Faction, but there was also the other person who managed to do quite well. Darius noticed that his opponent was a girl and quite a pretty one as well, which was also another factor which would make people want her to join their Faction. But, since there was an explosion in his Furnace, Darius sustained a few injuries, but they were not heavy, so he was patched up under the Arena and only suffered from some light-headedness afterwards. But, when he was back to normal, Darius looked for the girl that came second and when he saw that she wasn’t competing, he looked around for her, but couldn’t see a trace of her.
After looking around, Darius finally found her, but she seemed to be cultivating quite earnestly, so Darius couldn’t talk to her and so he also started to cultivate. As he was cultivating, Darius made sure to use the Spirit Cultivation Technique to hide his Golden Core, so he had to cultivate at a slower speed. But that didn’t really matter, as he was simply waiting for the girl to get up, so they could talk. About what, Darius had no idea, but he thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get to know her.
Since Darius was cultivating, he wasn’t paying too much attention to the Weapon Synthesising Section, but if something interesting happened, he would divide his focus and watch what was happening. After some time, Darius continued to watch the Section, as it was getting quite interesting, but just as it was reaching the climax, the girl got up and started to walk off.
“Hey,” As he got up, Darius shouted out,” wait up.” When he called out, the girl stopped and waited for him, which was a surprise, as he expected her to run off.
Sticking his hand out, Darius introduced himself,” I’m Darius, what is your name?”
“Helena Von-Clemaire, what, are you going to, brag about winning?! Hmph!”
“Bragging, no, I just wanted to-”
Halfway through his sentence, Darius felt someone grab his cheeks, so he turned around and saw Charlotte was standing there and behind her was Elliot, her brother, grinning like an idiot.
“Darius, it feels like I haven’t seen you in ages! Oi, Charlotte, he can’t speak when you are grabbing his cheeks like that.”
Although he wasn’t too happy with the barging into the conversation, he was pleasantly surprised when he saw who it was, but he was slightly annoyed at Charlotte for pinching his cheeks.
“Yeah, it does feel like ages, what Hall are you guys in?”
“We are in the Decree Hall, it’s pretty cool, we get all of this stuff for half as much as it usually costs, so we both have been able to become much stronger. What about you?”
“I’m part of the Inscription Hall-”
“I should have guessed, you came first in that Alchemy Section didn’t you.”
At this point, Darius was exasperated, Charlotte had interrupted him twice in such a short period of time, but he didn’t dwell on it too long as he turned around and saw Helena storming off, which he could only sigh at.
“Who was that?”
“Oh, that was the girl that came second, but she doesn’t seem to like me does she.”
“Nope not at all.”
“That was meant to be a rhetorical question…”
‘Well’, Darius thought to himself,’ Charlotte is still an airhead.’ Catching up with them, Darius asked about Olivia and Elwood, as he saw them with the siblings when he first came to the Sect, but he found that they had gone to different Halls, so they didn’t have too much contact with them. But, Darius felt the mood lighten, as he had met some ‘old’ friends that he could talk to.
“Hey Charlotte,” Darius asked,” what level is your cultivation at now?”
Although he could check what level she was at, Darius wanted to respect her privacy, as she was a friend and there was no reason for him to check how much her strength had increased, so he just asked her.
“Well, my cultivation is at Rank 7 of Core Expansion, but my fighting ability isn’t as good as Alex or Zephyr, but if I had to I would still be able to put up a fight. But, that isn’t anything interesting, what level of cultivation are you at Darius?”
“I’m only at Rank 2 Core Expansion, not too much of an improvement.”
“What are you saying, you managed to break through into the Core Traversing Realm, how is that not much?”
At first, Darius was talking to Charlotte, but after he said that he hadn’t improved too much, Elliot was shocked, obviously it had been quite a problem for him to break through to the Core Traversing Realm.
“Okay, okay, but look at Charlotte, how much more of a freak is she?”
“Fair enough, when it comes to Charlotte, there isn’t much that I can say.”
A healthy relationship between two siblings required some banter, even if one of them was an airhead.
They all laughed together and Darius realised that he should go out more and try to make friends, as there was nothing else that felt as warm and fuzzy as friendship, at least there was nothing else that he had found as of yet.
As they were talking, they were also watching the Weapon Synthesis Section, but Darius felt that he had missed the most exciting part because of Helena, but it was still interesting. The only problem was that Charlotte was turning to him every other second and asking him questions about Weapon Synthesis, most of which he had no idea about. If he knew more about Weapon Synthesis, he would be participating in the Section, not sitting here talking.
Soon after, the Section finished and quite a few people were excited, as it was the Sparring Section next, which most of the first-years would participate in, as it was sparring, so they couldn’t get seriously injured and they were also able to figure out how strong they were in comparison with others. This was also a time to see which people they should suck up to and which ones they shouldn’t offend. But this was only true to those with no confidence that they would be able to back themselves up.
But, since the Section was about fighting, they had to give everyone that was in the Weapon Synthesising Section time to get into peak condition, so they waited for the rest of the day and only let the people into the Arena when the moon had already been up for some time. Because of this, it made everyone look more sinister.
“Everyone, this is the Sparring Section, there will be no need for anything as complicated as rounds. Everyone will have to take out a token and on this token there will be a number on it, that is your allocated number, every win and every loss will be accounted for on this token. Once you take your tokens, you will see three zeros on they are for your wins, losses and draws, going from the top to the bottom of the token and there will also be an empty space, that is where your rank will be. On the front of the token is your number, what number you will be versing and which ring it will take place in. But, there are several rules in this Section. No weapons, no seriously injuring or crippling anyone, you cannot take out personal grudges, there will be no bribing, blackmailing or anything of that sort, once someone surrenders or is knocked out of the ring they have lost and you cannot attack them and if you unwitting cause someone to become seriously injured or crippled, you will not be punished, except for the fact that you will not be able to participate in the Sparring Section, but if you pretend to do it unwittingly, we will punish you accordingly. Now, to pick your token, simply bring your Energy into the barrel and pull out the first token you find. Each fight will have a time limit of five minutes and if no-one wins by the end of the time limit, it is a tie. For each win, we will add two points, for each loss you will lose two points and for each tie, each side will lose one point.”
The voice that said all of this was different to the one from the Alchemy Section, which made Darius think that each Hall had certain Section that they governed over and Darius’ suspicions were solidified with the fact that there were five Sections, but there were two which had to do with the Inscription Hall and none with the Managing Hall. But, he cast all of this aside for the moment. He then took his token out of the barrel which had appeared in the middle of the Arena when the voice talked about it.
Number 254, that is what he got and he looked over at Charlotte and Elliot and showed them his token and they showed him theirs. 666 and 777, Elliot and Charlotte’s numbers respectively. These numbers simply showed how these two were in life. Elliot was the unlucky one, but the one which was more sinister (had a brain) and Charlotte was the one who got lucky and was straightforward (didn’t have a brain).
Looking down at his token again, Darius saw that he was going to fight #2451 in ring 1226. 2451, unless he was unlucky enough, this means that there was more than 2451 people in the group of first-years! It seems that this might take a very long time if everyone had to fight everyone else. He was going to have to fight at least 2450 people, this made Darius sweat slightly, as that was going to take quite some time, even if the fights were only five minutes long.
The ring wasn’t anything fancy, it was just a slightly elevated circle with a few steps leading up onto it, otherwise it was exactly the same as the rest of the Arena, stone-cold, almost impossible to break but yet it didn’t feel as hard as something like concrete when someone smashed you into it.
This was the thought that Darius’ opponent felt a few seconds after the fight started. But that was only fleeting, as he was sent flying out of the ring before he could even surrender. Such a demoralizing defeat left a few people that didn’t immediately rush to their ring speechless, as the defeat was too sudden.
But, it still it served Darius purpose, if someone knew that person and they knew that they were weaker than him, they would throw the towel in before the fight started so Darius wouldn’t have to bother with too many fights, as that would tire him out. As he looked at his token, he saw that there was a one on it above two zeros, which meant he had one win and beneath that was the number one, so that means that he was coming first right now.
Walking over to the next ring he had to fight in, Darius also sent this person flying with one move and he also did so with the next person. But, the third person that he fought was slightly different. As Darius stepped onto the the ring, his ears were instantly assaulted by his opponent when they said,” I surrender!”
Darius never expected this to happen so soon, but he took it in his stride and looked down at his token, four wins, zero loses, zero ties and ranked first. The reason why he was first is because he had finished his fights so fast, so he had more points than anyone else. He then walked over to the next ring he had to fight in, but he had to wait, since no-one else was there, they must still be fighting.
When the person finished and came over to the ring, Darius felt that he had seen his opponent before, but he wasn’t sure when and he also knew that he had seen them before he entered the Sect, but there weren’t too many people which he had met before he entered the Sect. As he thought this, Darius wasn’t paying too much attention to his opponent, but if he was, he would have seen a murderous glint in their eye that quickly disappeared.
As he stepped into the ring, Darius performed the usual battle rites of bowing and then the fight started. From the moment he stepped into the ring, Darius knew that his opponent wasn’t like the others that he had fought, he would be much harder. Seeing that there was a fist coming straight towards his face, Darius waited until the last second to grab their wrist and used their momentum to pull them towards himself.
This move would have easily worked against his previous opponents, but as this person was drawn in, he brought his fist up again and was going to use the force to smash Darius’ face! This left Darius in a predicament. Although he could continue on and dodge the move, that would let his opponent take control of the rhythm of the fight, but he could deflect the punch to the side, which would make it harder for his opponent to control the rhythm, but it would also make it quite hard for Darius to control it as well.
But, he still went with the deflection, which seemed to have left his opponent wide open, but Darius knew that if he made a move he would be walking right into his opponents trap. So he let the opening pass him, but he didn't waste his opportunity to control the rhythm. As his opponent was open, Darius jumped over their head and landed behind them, which was quite an athletic move, as he had to jump a full two metres from a standstill, flip over in the air so he was facing his opponent and land on his feet in a split second.
Although anyone at the Sect could have done that easily, Darius had to decide to commit to the jump in less than half a second and then he had to execute it before his opponent recovered, which would be another half second, but he managed to do so and also kicked at their legs when he landed. But, his opponent deftly jumped up, dodging his kick by millimetres.
Since Darius was skilled enough, he forced his opponent to only be able to jump to get out of the way of his kick, so he was given enough time to recover, which made a seemingly bad move turn into a brilliant one, as he had also given himself the opportunity to attack again. Sending a palm at his opponents stomach, Darius wondered what he would do, since his opponent had twisted himself to face Darius, as the back was covered in weak points and what would he do if Darius launched an attack that he wasn’t able to sense?
Just before his fist was going to hit, Darius’ opponent pushed his fist down, almost causing Darius to stumble forwards, which testified towards the power behind his punch. But, although his opponent managed to deflect his punch, he still received some of the power of the punch, which caused his arms to become slightly numb.
Since his arms were slightly numb, he couldn’t take another hit, or he would completely lose all feeling in his arms and that might go on for weeks, which would make him unable to compete in the fighting components of the competition. So, when he saw another fist heading towards him, he could only dive out of the way. But he never expected that the fist would follow him and continue to gain power, which left him with almost no way out other than to move so that most of the force would dissipate.
As Darius punched, his opponent moved in an odd way which made Darius lose track of the centre of his body, so when his punch landed, it smashed onto his shoulder, which almost broke it, but it was a glancing blow and brushed off. But although it brushed off, Darius’ punch wasn’t any normal punch, so the force behind it sent his opponent stumbling back and only when he was at the very edge of the ring did he stop and even then he was close to stepping out.
But, Darius just stood there and watched him, he didn’t use this opportunity to knock him off the edge, but let him recover before he rushed at him. This time, Darius put aside any other schemes and simply punched at his opponent. The punch was extremely savage and so fast that the only way that his opponent could block it was by sending out a punch of his own.
Although this punch was a hurried punch, all of his opponents hopes rested on it, so it was quite powerful, but when the two punches met, it was obvious who came out on top. His opponent was sent flying out of the ring like the other four people he had faced, while Darius didn’t move an inch.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Darius realised that this fight was much harder than he expected it to be, but all it gained him was another number on his token. Walking over to the next ring he had to go to, Darius wondered how many people he would have to fight with his all against. But the next fight he had was not one of those fights and it ended with one of Darius’ punches.
Soon after this, Darius had managed to accumulate almost 100 wins. It was his 100th match, but he hadn’t won yet, but his opponent was clearly worn out and held no resistance to him as he was sent hurtling from the ring. 100 wins, this was a small achievement, considering how there would be close to 2500 matches, but it was an achievement nonetheless.
100 wins and yet he had only fought one person with whom he needed to put a bit of effort in to defeat them, so Darius was slightly disappointed and he seriously hoped that they would be much more proficient in using their weapons. Tens of fights went by with the same outcome and some of them surrendered and Darius was getting quite bored, he wished that there was someone that could fight with him for a decent amount of time, but that never came.
Win after win after win, Darius sighed and if others knew what he was thinking about, they would probably want to murder him! He thought,” Winning is far too easy, it is too simple, why can’t someone be better than me? Why can’t someone beat me?” He was literally asking for a beating!
But, he still won all of the matches and he really wanted to fight someone who was worthy of him showing some effort, but considering how there are around 2500 first-years, this might take quite some time for someone who was worthy to come around and based on Darius current calculations, it was around one in every two hundred disciples. After many hours of fighting, Darius had managed to fight 347 matches and he won all of them. But, Darius finally got what he was asking for in the 348th match.
As he stepped into the ring, Darius could already feel the dangerous aura from this person and they had the looks to match it. If they were green, they would have looked like the Hulk! They were slightly over two metres tall, had arms as thick as a grown man’s chest and eyebrows that made them always look angry.
Since Darius was almost eleven, he had not yet reached his growth spurt, so he felt like an ant up against an elephant, a David against Goliath. After performing the battle rites, Darius and his opponent stood on opposite sides of the ring, slowly circling each other and Darius saw that there were many gaps that he could have utilized, except that he was far too small and they would have done nothing, unless he wanted to show his true ability, but he knew that he didn’t need to.
After a few seconds of circling each other, they both rushed at each other and met in the middle. Darius didn’t attack, but let his opponent take the upper hand, so when they attacked, Darius rolled under the punch and stood up behind them. He then pushed his opponent lightly, which caused them to stumble slightly and then he sent a low, sweeping kick at them. In that instant, his opponent had gone from looking like they had the upper hand to rolling around in the dust.
Darius then went in to grab him, but as he was doing so, his opponent let out a wry grin and hauled himself up while trying to throw Darius over his shoulder. Since he was much larger than Darius, he was able to throw him quite easily, but he never expected Darius to counter-throw him as well and since they were quite close to the edge of the ring in the first place, he was almost thrown off the ring. As a matter of fact he was thrown out of the ring, but he used his Energy to allow himself to recover and get back inside the ring.
But, Darius didn’t just let him get back into the ring, so, although he jumped to the other side of the ring, Darius ran over and charged straight into him and since he was much smaller, his opponent thought that it wouldn’t do a thing, but he had severely underestimated Darius strength and was sent tumbling backwards, since they had just landed on the floor, so they also weren’t at their most stable.
As they both hurtled towards the end of the ring, Darius pushed himself backwards by jumping up and kicking at his opponents body, sending them backwards even faster and they ended up in a sorry heap outside of the ring. One more win. Stepping off of the stage, Darius got ready for the next match.
Match after match, the result was the same and the method was almost identical, making many people wonder if Darius was a person or if he was a machine. After many more monotonous fights, Darius came up against another worthy opponent during his 521st fight.
When he first went up onto the stage, he thought that it would be a simple fight, as his opponent looked quite weak. They were as thin as a rake and were only skin and bone, it seemed as if a slight breeze could knock them over. But when Darius saw the position they stood in when they were getting ready to fight, he tried to find some flaws in it, but it seemed that none could be found.
Darius had fought so many opponents in such a short span of time he was almost instinctively bowing before he started to fight. After they stared into each others eyes for a short time, they both launched themselves at each other. As they lept at each other, Darius was shocked when he saw the Energy this person was using. Although it wasn’t very strong, the amount of it was astronomical, Darius reckoned that if he used his Energy which was from his Golden Core, he would still be overwhelmed by this Energy as there was just too much.
It seemed that each muscle in his body had been augmented by the Energy. A cultivator was able to make Energy concentrate on certain places, which causes it to become much stronger than usual, but it would also damage meridians if it was used too much, but this person seems to have quite sturdy meridians, so they were able to keep this state throughout the whole time they were flying towards each other.
As their two fists collided, the air around them seemed to create ripples that were visible to the eye. From one side there was a visible aura, which served to oppress anyone that came too close and made them seem like a dragon hidden among lizards, but his opponent seemed to not have an aura, but his body itself made one shiver by just looking at it, as that was how strong it seemed.
Dust flew all over the place, but luckily the rings had a small barrier around them that appeared once a match occurred, so the actual force behind the punches to be contained, but it still let the wind through. The ring was also covered in dust, as the wind had stirred the dust up making others unable to see what was happening inside it. This is what caused multiple people to wonder what was happening inside, as almost everyone had heard the bang and had felt some fluctuations in the Arena, even the people in the crowd!
BANG, BANG, BANG!
But before the dust could settle, three quick strikes rang out through the now silent Arena, but after a second, it seemed that the wind caused by these strikes caused the dust to disperse. But, some dust seemed to swirl around, but it was just enough for them to see the shadows of the two competitors.
It seemed that the two of them were at the edge of the ring, they seemed to be equally matched. Again they rushed in to exchange a few blows, but they moved so fast that the crowd simply saw their shadows flicker and then disappear. Although they would have been able to see them if the dust wasn't there, they couldn’t see them now which caused them to think that they were much faster than they actually were.
At some times, they couldn’t tell exactly what was happening, but they could faintly see it when they both were punching at each other, as they had to slow down to the speed at which they would be able to see them, making them able to see them briefly, but even if they couldn’t see them, they would be able to feel it when they made a punch, because of the ripples in the air and they would be able to hear it when their attacks make a connection.
These punches seemed to have nothing held back in them and whenever they made a connection, the opponent was able to stabilize themselves, but they were forced back quite a few steps and it seemed to have hurt a lot and if the fight wasn’t ended quickly, they might end up with some serious injuries.
After a minute, some of people with softer hearts were worrying about the two that were fighting it out in the ring, as they had punched each other so much, making it quite unbearable for some to watch. Blood flowed down their fists and several of their ribs were broken when the two finally separated.
Several seconds passed as the two stood there, but one of them fell to the floor with a thud. Since the dust covered the ring, the audience couldn't tell who had fallen and who had won. Murmurs swept among the crowd and many wondered who these two could be, as they were insanely strong for first-years.
As one of the figures seemed to be walking off the ring, all eyes were glued to him, as he walked out of the ring, all they saw was a slight glimpse of the side of his face before he rushed off and no-one was able to see anything clearly, but they had all firmly placed whatever they saw into their minds.
After a few seconds, some elders ran into the ring and brought out the person that was lying there and swiftly brought away so that they can heal the injuries, which were quite severe. But, Darius didn't receive this treatment as he had won the match and could only heal his wounds by himself and since there wasn’t a time limit to when you had to get to your arena, Darius could do this for as long as he wanted.
As he was recovering, Darius looked at his token and he noticed that the ring he had to fight in had changed! This made him realise that when he fought someone, it was entirely based on how close he was to the ring, as someone else must have come closer to the ring, so they were able to have as many fights as fast as possible, which also made Darius relieved that he wasn’t making someone wait a long time to have a match.
Not long after, Darius had managed to bring himself back to the point where he would be able to fight, but his injuries were still quite a bit of a pain. He had also made sure that they would also heal correctly. Getting up, Darius walked over to the nearest ring and started to fight. And after that one intense fight, it was back to normal.
Well it was back to normal until the 666th round where he found that he was up against Elliot! The 666th round against the 666th person in the 666th ring, quite conicidential, but it was bound to happen at least once when there were almost 2500 people. As they faced each other in the ring, Elliot said,” Just because we are friends doesn’t mean that I will let you win easily, come at me!”
“Wow, I was just about to say the same thing! Good luck!”
They both slowly walked towards the centre of the ring and when they were within an arm’s reach of each other they started to exchange blows, except it wasn’t as much as exchanging blows than Darius dealing them, as Elliot could never have known how strong Darius was.
Soon after, Elliot realised that Darius was exceptionally strong, so he couldn’t rely on brute strength, but he had to fall back to planning and scheming. As he tried to dodge, Elliot wondered how he would be able to even have a chance at winning, as when they were fighting, Elliot saw no gaps in Darius’ defence, besides the ones that were there to draw him in and he felt a sense of despair and hopelessness.
A few seconds later he was sent flying out of the ring. Darius then walked out of the ring and came to Elliots side and helped him up.
“What, since when were you this strong. I remember that before that competition, you were throwing Alex and the others all of the place, but you didn’t seem to be this strong then! Just how monsterous are you?”
“Well everyone has improved haven’t they?”
Faced with such an ambiguous answer, Elliot could only continue to be exasperated and he simply laughed it off and went to his next match and so did Darius. Facing someone he knew was quite a nice experience, as he was able to gauge himself to a much finer degree and it was also nice to see a familiar face among the strangers.
Again Darius fought people with ease and soon enough he was faced with another familiar face. It was Charlotte and funnily enough it was during the 777th round, in the 777th ring and Charlotte’s number was 777, so when Darius looked at his token, he was almost blinded by the amount of sevens he saw.
Walking to the seven-hundred and seventy-seventh ring, Darius wondered how strong Charlotte would be and how she would fight, as he had never seen her fight properly. When he stepped into the ring, Darius wondered why both siblings got numbers so symbolic like 666 and 777 and why he fought both of them on the round of their number in the arena of their number.
Darius couldn’t tell if they were extremely lucky or if they were extremely unlucky because of that.
“Oooh, so it is you Darius! When I saw the number on my token I thought that it looked familiar! How many fights have you done?”
Before Charlotte even stepped into the ring she started to talk cheerfully.
“Not too many, only 777.”
“What? So many! How do you manage to do that? I have only managed to complete 300 fights and I thought I was one of the front-runners, as I am 6th! Oh, don’t tell me that you are first!”
“Well… aaah,”Darius was trying to figure out how to respond to that, as Charlotte had just said to not say that he was first but nothing came to him,” I am first… sooo yeah.”
While Darius was trying to find his words, Charlotte was bracing herself for the shock, yet when the words came out of his mouth, she couldn’t hold her excitement in and rushed in to hug Darius, but he moved out of her way which caused her to grab thin air. This didn’t make her angry, but she still huffed and said,” I was thinking of going easy on you, but now…”
She then proceeded to bow and perform the battle rites, which Darius hastily followed with as well. Then they started into each others eyes. As Darius looked into Charlotte’s eyes, they seemed to be quite similar to the sun, but this didn’t affect Darius at all, whereas when Charlotte looked into his eyes, she immediately disengaged, as she couldn’t bear it from that point onwards, Darius knew that he had won, as he had the psychological advantage.
But, Charlotte didn’t give up, if anything Darius had notified her of his power and she was trying harder than she would have if they didn’t stare each other down, but every now and then she would lapse into thought, which showed as her reaction was a bit slower or her attacks were less accurate.
Using this to his advantage, Darius was able to easily sweep the floor and win unquestionably and Charlotte was even more shocked at Darius’ strength than her brother. But, she didn’t show it and tried to act normal and walked off to her next battle. But when Darius had gone out of sight, she stopped and thought to herself,” Just how powerful is Darius, by simply staring into his eyes, my soul felt like it was being engulfed and he didn’t even seem to be serious. There was a complete calm, yet such power!”
While Charlotte was thinking this, Darius sneezed and wondered if he was catching a cold, but he knew that was absurd, as his body’s condition was far too good for him to catch a cold, well at least a normal one.
Then, everything went back to normal and he fought with more and more people, but he hadn’t managed to face Alex or Zephyr yet. But he did manage to face Olivia, Elwood, Louise, Silora, Morgan, Spencer, Dalton, Snow and Thalia, who he had met when he first entered the Sect.
None of these fights were too eventful, but Darius was delighted to see how much his friends had improved, but he was quite annoyed at the others, as they seemed to think that they were stronger than him and tried to talk trash to his face, but he was able to easily overpower them until they were crawling on the ground.